Home' Border Enterprise : Enterprise Spring-Summer 2009 Contents 9
MANUFACTURING jobs on
the Border have declined
since the high levels of
the late 1970s and 1980s,
but there have been big
increases in other areas such as private and public
health services, warehousing, retail and post-
Some businesses are struggling but the
perception of business leaders such as Dr Arthur
Frauenfelder is that the region is handling the
global financial crisis better than expected and
awaits the inevitable upturn.
Albury-Wodonga is lucky to have large
workforces funded by the Defence Department
and the Australian Taxation Office and by the
states in health, education and social services.
Both cities were originally market towns servicing
agricultural hinterlands and benefiting by being on
the Melbourne-Sydney corridor.
Wodonga for decades hosted the nation's largest
cattle sales and Albury the largest wool sales, but
they needed a manufacturing base to retain the
population and keep the economy going.
Amalgamated Textiles kicked off this sector in
1926 and still operates as Macquarie Textiles,
though with fewer staff these days.
Wodonga's role in military training, logistics and
warehousing began in 1940.
Today the Joint Logistics Unit (Victoria) at
Bandiana is one of the region's largest employers,
with lead contractor BAE Systems employing more
than 500 skilled civilians.
As well as servicing the Bandiana and Bonegilla
bases, providing huge warehouses and repairing
vehicles, the unit is part of the $844 million
upgrade of M113 armoured personnel carriers.
Modern army buildings have been built mostly
by local builders and Joss Construction has
just started a $25 million mega-warehouse at
Wadsworth Barracks, Bandiana.
The Army Logistic Training Centre has a military
staff instructing hundreds of soldiers each year.
Both units generate big business for the Border.
Aside from their army jobs, Joss and Zauner
Construction and their many sub-contractors have
built civic, education, health, clubs and commercial
Hansen Yuncken has emerged as a local leader
in the last five years, while MagiBuild has had some
landmark projects such as the airport extensions.
Charles Sturt University and La Trobe University
pump a lot of money into business through
purchase of materials and services and the student
rental market is significant.
Wodonga's largest private manufacturer, Mars
Petcare, started as Uncle Ben's in 1967 and
continues to employ hundreds, with substantial
spin-offs for other local companies.
Uncle Ben's was a catalyst for Wodonga's
growth before the Albury-Wodonga Development
Corporation arrived, and the Wodonga abattoir,
started about these same time, also survives as
Norvic Food Processing.
Wodonga's Bradken's foundry continues in
production after 50 years despite recent problems.
In Albury, a Chinese carmaker, Geely, rescued
Lavington's gearbox factory in June when it bought
Drivetrain Systems International, now to trade as
This factory has operated 37 years, employing
more than 1000 people at its peak, and Geely
intends to boost production and raise jobs levels
back to where they once were.
Albury-Wodonga's industrial landscape continues
Albury's Airport Industrial Park is a success story
based on suppliers such as MacFab Engineering
and Surdex and others firms like Dahlsen's and the
Albury Freight Centre.
More industrial land is available north of the
airport and the city council and A.P. Delaney
and Co. are set to create more industrial land at
Kenilworth, near the Ettamogah Intermodal Hub
and the Norske Skog newsprint mill.
Wodonga's Logic Hub began with an amazing
coup in the shape of a Safeway distribution centre
built in 2005 and now employing hundreds, and
has the potential to employ thousands more.
Meanwhile, the retail sector has been
transformed with a Harvey Norman Centre at
Borella Road, two Bunnings Warehouse stores,
two ALDI supermarkets, soon to be three, and
other stores such as JB Hi-Fi.
The four Centro shopping centres (Lavington,
Albury, Wodonga and Birallee) have probably
reached their maximum size and will be joined by
the Gallagher Group's Thurgoona Plaza.
Albury-Wodonga's businesses, large and small,
all need professional support.
Financial services have expanded, with Johnsons
MME now one of the largest accountancy firms
outside the capital cities, the former KPMG Albury
office now being part of WKH, and O'Callaghans
merging last year with RSM Bird Cameron.
Albury-Wodonga has enjoyed 40 years of prosperity thanks to the
exceptional diversity of its employment base and the ability to adapt
to new trends, as HOWARD JONES reports
WEATHERING THE STORM
A 3D image of how Thurgoona
Plaza will look on its anticipated
completion in March, 2010.
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