Parkes is experiencing unprecedented enquiry from industries interested in locating to the region in the wake of the Commonwealth Government’s announcement that construction would start on the Inland Rail.
Parkes Shire Council General Manager Kent Boyd says investors are looking to Parkes because of its unique position at the juncture of the north-south Newell Highway, the east-west rail-line and the Inland Rail route - the only place in Australia where these all intersect.
“The announcement by the Federal Government to start construction on Inland Rail has led already to new investment in Parkes because business sees the potential in locating close to a major national transport node,” Mr Boyd says.
“As well, Council has received a significant increase in investor enquiries in the National Logistics Hub. Since the early 1800s, the Parkes community has had a vision of being a nationally significant transport hub, and we are now seeing that vision realised.”
Mr Boyd says one of the major new projects will be Pacific National's Parkes Logistics Terminal, which is set to be one of largest private sector investments in freight infrastructure in regional Australia. Pacific National has committed an initial $35 million to commence development of the site, which was granted Development Approval last week.
“This is in addition to existing logistics companies Linfox and SCT Logistics which have been operating in the Hub for more than 10 years.”
More than 80 percent of Australia’s population, equivalent to 16 million people, can be reached in less than 12 hours by road from Parkes, offering a valuable competitive advantage for companies looking to develop logistics, distribution and manufacturing.
"The local Parkes community has been well aware we have been planning the Parkes National Logistics Hub for decades, because geographically, it is suited to be a key node for a national logistics network; but now the word is getting out across the country and internationally. The interest in Parkes is phenomenal; we are on the verge of something big.”
Mr Boyd says Parkes is set to welcome more than 350 delegates from business, industry and government converging on the town this week for the Australasian Rail Association (ARA) and the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Inland Rail Joint Industry Conference.
The delegates will discuss opportunities that the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail will bring to Australia.
“We congratulate the Australasian Railway Association and the Australian Logistics Council on their initiative in working together to develop and organise this timely conference.
“Inland Rail will be a catalyst to change freight movement in Australia.
“Parkes is at the centre of that change and represents a significant opportunity for business to take advantage of improvements in freight efficiency.
"The level of interest we have received during the past year has reaffirmed our commitment to careful planning for Parkes' economic future, including avoiding ad-hoc development which may limit the potential of this nationally-significant intermodal facility.”
Mr Boyd says transport and logistics is a rapidly-emerging sector of the Parkes Shire economy which will create many new jobs and build the economic prosperity of the region along with mining and agriculture.
“The Parkes National Logistics Hub will connect Australian farmers with international markets and create opportunities for companies to export value-added agriculture products and earn higher profit margins.
“Australian products are seen internationally as ‘clean and green’ and Parkes and the Central West will play an important role in the food export boom as we are situated in rich agricultural territory and boast a central location within a national freight network.”
Mr Boyd says Council has proactively invested in essential infrastructure such as new water and sewage treatment plants, airports, roads and public amenity to support future population growth.
"This activity progresses the community’s aspirations as outlined in the Parkes 2030 Community Strategic Plan and the Shire's vision to be a progressive and smart regional centre, embracing a national logistics hub, with vibrant communities, diverse opportunities, learning and healthy lifestyles.”
The Federal Government committed $8.4 billion to the Inland Rail project in the Federal Budget in 2017 and tasked the Australian Rail Track Corporation with delivering the project.
“The first stage of the Inland Rail will be the $300 million upgrade of the rail between Parkes and Narromine and the construction of the east-west link through the Hub at Parkes.
The Parkes National Logistics Hub is one of the largest greenfield intermodal sites in NSW, and one of Australia’s most promising industrial developments.
It will be a project of strategic importance to the freight industry and for the success of the Central West Region.