Victorian manufacturers visit Ballarat for first regional hosting of the Victorian Manufacturing Showcase

First: Industry and Employment Minister Wade Noonan with manufacturing officials Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Stephen Macdonald and Rodney Walton. Picture: Kate Healy

First: Industry and Employment Minister Wade Noonan with manufacturing officials Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Stephen Macdonald and Rodney Walton. Picture: Kate Healy

Ballarat is the first regional city to host the Victorian Manufacturing Showcase.

More than 350 Victorian manufacturers converged on the Federation University TAFE centre for the event on Tuesday, with Industry and Employment Minister Wade Noonan opening proceedings.

The day featured some of Victoria’s most successful manufacturing firms, including local brands such as Haymes Paint, Gekko Systems and trainmaker Alstom.

Manufacturing is one of Victoria’s largest industries, employing around 274,000 workers and contributing $27.5 billion to the state’s gross domestic product in 2014.

Speakers during the day included representatives from Ballarat companies such as Haymes Paint general manager Rodney Walton, co-founder and chairman of Gekko Systems Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Albins Performance Transmissions chief executive Stephen Macdonald as well as Jayco Corporation chairman Gerry Ryan.

Mr Walton said the event presented an opportunity for local manufacturers to engage and learn ideas from global companies.

”It’s wonderful to showcase what’s happening here at Fed Uni (TAFE) for a start start and for everyone to see what’s happening in manufacturing both within Victoria but more importantly in Ballarat as well,” he said.

“The great asset here at Ballarat is the available work force stability and available land at BWEZ. There’s many things that we should positive about is the opportunities for manufacturing.”

Despite the recent difficulties in manufacturing with job losses, Mr Noonan said there is still plenty of scope to develop the industry.

“The speakers made it clear that manufacturing is not just three car companies in Holden, Ford and Toyota,” he said.

“Obviously it’s been a tough month in manufacturing, in particular the auto sector. No one likes to see workers lose their jobs and the end of an era. There is so much more happening in manufacturing, whether it’s in defence, in construction, food or fibre.”

More than 4600 Ballarat residents work in manufacturing across 600 businesses.