Construction on an Australian Government funded project in Townsville which will attract top students and help build a workforce to drive the future prosperity of North Queensland is another step closer to starting.
On July 3 last year, the Liberal Nationals Government committed up to $98 million from its Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to build a Technology Innovation Complex (TIC) at James Cook University’s Townsville campus.
The Queensland Government and JCU have now signed a Facility Agreement for the NAIF loan, giving the green light to complete detailed design work.
The technology complex will deliver leading-edge STEM innovation, research and educational facilities for North Queensland.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said it would help build a workforce to meet the needs of the economy and drive prosperity in northern Australia for years to come, especially in key areas such as engineering in the tropics.
“This facility will help bring more regional and international STEM students to study in the north, broadening the region’s skills and knowledge base and giving local industry a new resource to tap into,” Minister Canavan said.
“It’s part of a broader plan by JCU to modernise its Townsville campus, and it’s exciting to see a NAIF loan going towards a project that will make North Queensland an even more attractive destination for students from home and abroad.”
Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the investment was a major coup for the city of Townsville.
“James Cook University is a world leader in the STEM fields and it’s right here in our backyard. I’m extremely pleased that the NAIF has been put to good use in ensuring funds are available for this important project to go ahead,” Mr Thompson said.
The final agreed NAIF loan amount of $94.4 million is part of a larger $174 million modernisation of JCU’s Townsville campus. The modernisation of the campus is forecast to generate public benefit estimated at $700 million over 30 years with the creation of 270 construction and other jobs.
NAIF has made Investment Decisions or conditional approvals on four projects in Queensland. The JCU technology complex is the first Queensland project to have a Facility Agreement signed by all parties.
To date, NAIF has committed $1.4 billion in loans to 13 infrastructure projects across northern Australia. This comprises: $783m for Queensland; $345m for the Northern Territory; and $295m for Western Australia.