'Innovation Precincts' part of new plan to create jobs

REGIONAL Australia will be able to capitalise on the Federal Government's new $1 billion jobs and industry plan by putting up individual plans to work with "industry innovation precincts" and improve regional economies.

The government's new 'Plan for Australian Jobs', will put up half a billion dollars to create 10 new industry-specific precincts, helping businesses innovate to improve the nation's economy.

A response to a manufacturing taskforce report last year that outlined the challenges facing many Australian industries, the plan outlines the government's strategy to improve productivity.

As part of yesterday's announcement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said two new industry precincts would be constructed, focussed on the food processing sector and manufacturing sector.

While both the new precincts would be located in Melbourne and Adelaide, Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean said the plan created new opportunities for regional Australians and their businesses.

He said through the Regional Development Australia committees, most areas outside the capital cities already knew what they wanted to do, and the new precincts could help them focus such efforts.

"What I am asking the regions to do is use their plans, work with the universities and industry groups, and look at where they can grow and diversify their own economies," he said.

"While the regions won't be able to necessarily bid for a precinct, there will be a competitive process for them to bid for the resources, so I want them to see where the potential is, so every region can play its role in the national picture."

Mr Crean said he was asking for a bottom-up approach from regional areas, to figure out the potential for them to grow the national economy through local initiatives.

He said the $1 billion initiative would also not impact the government's budget, as it would be funded by changes to tax concession to big business for research and development.

"What we are doing is making the cap on those tax concessions higher, so big business will still be able to access them, but the focus will be on the small to medium sector to use those concessions," he said.

The new initiative was welcomed by numerous industry groups including the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Jobs Plan Core Strategies:

  • A new Australian Industry Participation Authority to help businesses build connections to work on major projects
  • New laws to demand major projects worth more than $500 million to give local companies extra contracts
  • More than $500 million to be spent on 10 new Industry Innovation Precincts
  • A new Industry Innovation Network to help businesses, including those in regional areas, to take part in precinct activities
  • A new $350 million fund round of the Innovation Investment Fund to stimulate investment in start-up companies

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