The City of Rockingham mayor, Deb Hamblin, spoke with Manufacturers’ Monthly about why manufacturers should choose to set up operations in the area and how they could benefit from it.
Rockingham, located in Western Australia’s premier industrial region on the Western Trade Coast, is ideally positioned to welcome manufacturers in setting up production facilities in 2022.
With advanced manufacturing identified by the Western Australian government as a priority area and cross sector activity, over $100 million in funding is available under the Diversify WA Plan. This Plan supports industry assistance, attraction and grants across multiple sectors.
In aligning with the Diversify WA Plan, the City of Rockingham has assisted the growth of local manufacturing through:
- launching an Investment Prospectus earlier in 2021;
- participating in the Small Business Development Commission (SBDC) Small Business Friendly Approvals Project, with 17 reforms identified to improve planning approvals processes and reduce red tape;
- ongoing advocacy and collaboration with the WA government and other stakeholders for the release of industrial land;
- an Investment Facilitation service through the City’s Planning and Development Services department, which includes pre-lodgement meetings and economic development team support for proponents who are investing, operating or developing in the area; and
- collaborating with DevelopmentWA to promote the industrial land available.
The City is also working together with the state government on land identified as a “Smart Village,” where a jobs focus may provide an opportunity for local manufacturers to collaborate.
“This largely undeveloped, 24ha publicly owned land parcel is located within the Strategic Metropolitan Centre and is envisaged to become a major employment hub, potentially a technology and innovation hot spot,” City of Rockingham mayor, Deb Hamblin said.
“A potential large-scale transformative mixed-use development at this site may support local advanced manufacturing by providing a prime location for businesses to innovate and create together.”
Businesses in Rockingham’s Smart Village could also work with local research and education institutions such as Murdoch University and South Metropolitan TAFE, located in the City’s adjacent Campus Sector.
Benefits for manufacturers
With access to road, port and rail freight networks and all the advantages of an established industrial area, Rockingham’s land provides multiple benefits for manufacturing businesses both big and small. A high and wide load corridor and freight rail network ensures that loads and equipment of all sizes can move easily, connecting Rockingham with the Kewdale Freight Terminal and the rest of the state.
Another key benefit is the proximity of Rockingham to some of WA’s most important centres of activity.
“Rockingham boasts great proximity to some excellent drivers of manufacturing activity, including Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling – also known as Fleet Base West – and is located in the heart of WA’s premier industrial area, the Western Trade Coast,” Hamblin said.
“Additionally, Rockingham is in easy reach of WA’s shipbuilding precinct, the Australian Marine Complex, as well as the location of the proposed Westport Outer Harbour and has convenient transport connections and freight links to the Kwinana Freeway and Tonkin Highway.”
Throughout 2021, strict border controls across the state have also ensured continued economic development despite the impact of COVID-19 on the country. This has placed many businesses in an enviable position in Rockingham, particularly in the energy, defence, mining and construction industries.
An example of this was local fabrication business Aushield, which received accolades for Business of the Year and Trades & Service Excellence in this year’s Mineral Resources Regional Business Awards.
“While there have been a handful of snap lockdowns and some challenges with supply chains, many of our manufacturing businesses have bounced back and thrived,” Hamblin said. “Particularly in metal products and fabrication, and the food products and energy sectors.”
Another bonus is the high quality coastal lifestyle and the affordability of the many industrial and commercial properties on offer.
What land is available?
For manufacturers looking to find the ideal place that will service their requirements, there are available industrial lots in the recently opened Clipper Precinct in the Rockingham Industry Zone. For Light Industry and Service Commercial businesses, there are also lots available in the Dixon Road Light Industrial Area and Challenger Precinct.
Several manufacturers have announced large projects in the Rockingham Industry Zone within the past 12 months. Most recently, Woodside announced their option to lease over 130ha from DevelopmentWA for a new $1 billion hydrogen and ammonia plant. Others include Ecograf, with a proposed $98 million spherical graphite processing facility, and FYI Resources who are planning construction of a $274 million high purity alumina facility in a joint venture with Alcoa.
Off the back of the Department of Defence’s existing $1 billion investment in new buildings, facilities and upgrades at Fleet Base West, these major investments will add to a plethora of employment opportunities. Under the Royal Australian Navy’s Naval Capability Infrastructure Sub-Program, the head contractor Lendlease has committed to using 85 per cent local content.
“This puts Rockingham businesses at an advantage to win this type of work during the construction phase, but opportunities also exist in the ongoing maintenance of the base, facilities and vessels based there,” Hamblin said.
Another development that is expected to be launched in the second half of 2022, named Port Kennedy Industrial (PKI), will supply additional land.
“These locations offer an exciting opportunity for manufacturing businesses – whether they are ready to move into their first dedicated property, upgrade from an existing site, or expand their operations in great surroundings,” Hamblin said.
Lots at PKI will become available in late 2022, with services to be connected for manufacturers.
Exciting opportunities ahead
One of 10 designated Strategic Metropolitan Centres in WA, the Rockingham City Centre is the primary centre for the south-west region of the Perth Metropolitan area.
Strategic Metropolitan Centres are multi-purpose centres that provide retail, office, community, entertainment, residential and employment activities, and are well serviced by public transport. Rockingham not only provides services and amenities to its diverse population, but also a full range of economic and community services as the capital of the surrounding region.
Based close to a strong existing commercial and industrial business community, manufacturers would be well placed to take advantage of the local circular economy and supply chain opportunities in Rockingham.
“Whether a business is manufacturing beer, boats or boilers, Rockingham and Port Kennedy are terrific locations to be based, with plenty on the horizon to be excited about and strong freight, rail and port connections to get materials in and products out to clients efficiently,” Hamblin said.