Clarence Valley Council building on Prince Street, Grafton.
Clarence Valley Council building on Prince Street, Grafton.

Firms engineer industrial cluster for competitive edge

ENGINEERING and construction firms in the Clarence Valley have joined forces to create an industrial cluster that will give them a competitive edge.

After more than two years' planning, the project called the Clarence Valley Marine and Engineering Cluster is now operating.

Clarence Valley Council's economic development co-ordinator, Elizabeth Fairweather, said the cluster was the result of two years' work from the council and the NSW Department of Industry encouraging businesses to support the idea.

Industry networking events began the process with businesses in the engineering, marine and fabrication sectors choosing to be part of activities aimed at improving the competitiveness and productivity of member businesses.

"Building trust was the key," Ms Fairweather said.

"Once these companies started to have conversations through networking, the rest of the plan became clear.

"Local businesses have committed to work together to help the whole sector win business, share resources and expertise and to continually innovate to provide the best solutions for clients."

Anthony Wicks, from Grafton-based metal fabrication and crane hire business Wicks and Parker, is excited at the opportunities the cluster has already created.

"Our company has been able to anticipate the work that is coming, and expand its crane fleet to accommodate the work as it progresses," he said.

"On the steel fabrication side we have seen an increase in work in the local area and we've increased the number of staff we employ."

Harwood Marine managing director Ross Roberts said being part of the cluster had helped his company develop into different areas.

"We have had great access to experts to assist our business general operations in areas such as tendering and training," he said.

"The cluster has put us in touch with other local engineering companies, creating a forum for our businesses' sector to discuss where we need assistance to overcome business impediments."

Andrew Harris Engineering owner Andrew Harris said there had been benefits for his firm.

"Although we are competitors in some way, there is always a certain amount of knowledge or experience that we are willing to share," he said. "As a group we are also able to voice our concerns with more impact in getting something done about it."


Information sourced from: Northern Rivers Business Magazine.

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