Forces to be reckoned with
  • Thursday 16 July 2015

The baton for economic strength on the Sunshine Coast has been passed on.

Some of the region’s best and brightest business people were this week inducted as leaders of the seven High-Value Industry Taskforces that were established last year as part of the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-33.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the leaders had vital roles to play within their taskforces.

“The Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) aims to triple our current economy to $33billion by 2033 through increasing exports by 20% and growing High Value Industry jobs from 59,000 to 100,000 over the next 20 years,” he said.

“To help drive this vision, taskforces were created in 2014 for each of our seven high-value industries – which are health and well-being; education and research; professional services and knowledge industries; tourism, sport and leisure; food and agribusiness; clean technologies; and aviation and aerospace.

“The role of each industry taskforce is to plan for our future and start delivering on our economic promise. This is a regional industry-led initiative and we have leading local business people with specific knowledge of industry issues and requirements volunteering their time and expertise to drive these plans into action.”

Agribusiness Taskforce Chair Andrew Eves-Brown said The REDS strategy provided an ideal platform to build from and a focus on the Food and Agri-business industry.

“The Sunshine Coast epitomises the image that the food and agribusiness industry wants to portray. It represents the clean, fresh, sustainability of the area – the true Natural Advantage,” he said.

“One of the key actions of the Agribusiness Industry and Investment Plan 2014-2018 was implementing a ‘zero waste project’ to eliminate the dumping of fresh local produce.

“We held a forum in June and invited growers, food industry businesses and local and state government representatives to look at ways to reduce edible strawberry waste by developing new products or value-adding to existing products.

“This is already bearing fruit, with a number of local businesses looking into new niche products that can further boost the strawberry industry that’s already worth around $16million to the food and agribusiness industry on the Sunshine Coast.”

“Confidence is high and it’s an ideal time to launch these initiatives.”

Cleantech Industry Taskforce Chair Diane Howard said her role provided a unique opportunity to help chart a passage to a long term vision.

“The clean technology industry has the greatest opportunity for growth and council’s commitment to the sector means we’re hopeful of the region becoming a major cleantech hub in the not too distant future,” she said.

“One of the key actions of the Cleantech Taskforce now and into the future is to collaborate and pool resources on the Sunshine Coast and reverse the drift of talent, entrepreneurism and business away from our region.”

Some key actions of the High Value Industry plans to date include:

  • The Cleantech Connect conference in May that showcased local clean technology solutions to the business community
  • The Food and Agri-business taskforce’s ‘Zero Waste’ Project
  • The Basic Health Care School to Work program that is currently being piloted on the Sunshine Coast. The program involves 15 local high school students undertaking a Certificate III in Basic Health Care with guaranteed placements / jobs at the end.
  • Health Investment Mission to Melbourne in July 2015, meeting with more than 50 targeted companies and businesses
  • Creating a new tourism channel through the introduction of cruise ship visits in the Tourism plan.
  • Promotion of the Sunshine Coast as a training base for high performance athletes and teams
  • Research Week collaboration and promotion with the University of the Sunshine Coast to assist local businesses with their research needs.
  • Smart City Framework development and launch of Digital Sunshine Coast.

. The current High Value Industry Taskforce leaders are:

  • Terrence Seymour - Health and Well-being;
  • Brian Anker - Education and Research;
  • Byron Cannon - Professional Services and Knowledge Industries;
  • Aaron Flanigan - Tourism, Sport and Leisure;
  • Andrew Eves-Brown –  Agribusiness;
  • Diane Howard - Clean Technologies;
  • Terry O’Brien - Aviation and Aerospace.