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Committee for Geelong's Weekly Addy Opinion Piece - Expo Presence has city still on target

In a display of unity this week, the Geelong Defence Alliance (GDA) represented our region in Adelaide at the Land Forces 2016 conference.  This leading land defence expo presented many opportunities for Geelong businesses across a variety of sectors to take the message of a strong and diverse Geelong to international delegates.

This year's Geelong delegation, led by GDA chairman Clive Pugh of Winchester Australia, included the City of Greater Geelong - Enterprise Geelong, Avalon Airport, Geelong Manufacturing Council, and the Committee for Geelong.  Through the GDA, these organisations collaborated with the Victorian Government to present one unified message that our region remains a great place to invest.

This is the second time a formal Geelong delegation has attended the Land Forces expo, and the GDA's presence again this year positively raised the profile of our region.

Given Geelong's proud manufacturing history, our region can continue to play a significant role in the defence sector. The recent announcement that the BAE Systems and Thales have been shortlisted for the Land 400 project is not detrimental to Geelong.  It simply means that we have only two companies to convince that our region is a great base for manufacturing and sustainment.


During the Land Forces expo, the GDA introduced Minister for Industry Wade Noonan, Opposition spokesman on defence Richard Marles and Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson to a range of Geelong-based exhibitors and attendees including Marand, Chemring Australia, Winchester Australia, J Anderson & Co, Air Radiators, GHD and BullEx Australia.

BullEx general manager Chris Chester spoke about his first presence at Land Forces as being "a space that we haven't really explored before".  "We're well known in firefighter training but not so much in the defence force sector.  This is the start of a long process for us, but we're here to establish a presence, talk to people and crack the defence nut" he said.

Also at the expo was the Australian Automotive Research Centre (AARC) - part of the Linfox group - and Australia's largest independently owned and operated automotive test facility located in Anglesea.  In addition, Deakin University's exhibit was led by Professor Saeid Nahavandi, recently appointed as the nation's first ever pro vice-chancellor for defence technologies.

It is important to note that the organisation responsible for the Land Forces expo is Geelong-based Aerospace Maritime and Defence Foundation, which manages the biennial Australian International Airshow at Avalon.  Given the success of Geelong's presence at the Land Forces expo, the GDA has already received strong interest from businesses in our region seeking to collaborate on a united Geelong presence at the airshow.

There are many more businesses in the Geelong region that could diversity into defence.  A partnership approach between industry and government is essential to ensure local businesses are exposed to opportunities they perhaps may not have previously considered possible. As Geelong transforms, it is vital that the GDA's presence at the Land Forces 2016 expo is leveraged to showcase our region's defence capacity and capability at the Australian International Airshow 2017. 

Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter @Comm4Geelong.

Image: GDA representatives with Minister Noonan (centre)



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