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Darren Keegan

Darren Keegan

Deputy Director for New England and North West

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New England and North West at a glance

An agricultural powerhouse

An agricultural powerhouse

An agricultural powerhouse producing nearly a fifth of NSW’s gross value of crops and 6% of livestock products, responding to growing demand in Asian markets
New England Agtech Cluster

New England Agtech Cluster

The New England Agtech Cluster in Armidale partners business with the University of New England’s Centre for Agribusiness, Smart Farm and Smart Regional Incubator
Important logistics and warehousing

Important logistics and warehousing

Important logistics and warehousing sector
Coal mining and renewable energy opportunities

Coal mining and renewable energy opportunities

Expanding coal mining operations and renewable energy investments in solar and wind power
Multinational food processing presence

Multinational food processing presence

Food processing capacity in beef, lamb, poultry, and specialty food and wine - the region hosts processing facilities including Teys Cargill, Thomas Foods, Baiada and Bindaree Beef

New England and North West contributes over A$7 billion to the NSW economy and is a significant agricultural producer and processor.


The region is recognised as a premier agribusiness and food production location globally connected to international markets. Grains and pulses, cotton, beef, lamb and specialty food products are sold to domestic and international customers.

The region’s mining and energy investment is expanding because of the availability of coal, solar and wind resources.

A recognised Agtech cluster in Armidale is producing high-quality research and development in agricultural technology, and facilitating collaboration between local business and the University of New England’s Centre for Agribusiness, its SMART Farm and SMART Regional Incubators. Research data is shared with SMEs and entrepreneurs to grow commercial agribusiness, innovation and technology opportunities.  

These industries are supported by an extensive services sector in agribusiness, health, education and technology, and research and development organisations like the University of New England, CSIRO and various Cooperative Research Centres. Business start-ups and innovation are supported by the Jobs for NSW Agtech Cluster initiative and the UNE SMART Region Incubator.

Header image credit: Destination NSW

Key local attributes

Key local attributes

The region is strategically located halfway between Sydney and Brisbane on key road and rail transport routes.

The region is globally connected to capital cities and ports through air, broadband, rail and road infrastructure. Significant volumes of agricultural commodities are moved annually.

Infrastructure investment like the proposed Inland Rail project, investments in Armidale and Tamworth Airports, and upgrades to the New England and Newell Highways will further increase connectivity and freight productivity.

Commercial real estate in Tamworth is on average A$195 per square metre for office rent per annum compared to A$675 in Melbourne's CBD, while industrial rent is on average A$90 per square metre in Tamworth (LJ Hooker Commercial, 2017).

Morning sun rising over the local post office on Peel St, Tamworth - image courtesy of Destination NSW

Key local attributes

Sectors of opportunity

  • Agribusiness and food

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    Workforce
    • 3,500 employed in agribusiness and food manufacturing sectors.

    • Dedicated education, research and development facilities at the University of New England and New England Institute of TAFE.

    • 6% hold tertiary agricultural or environmental studies qualifications compared to 2% nationally.

    Infrastructure
    • Centre for livestock production and research including international livestock genetics and animal health at the University of New England.

    • Availability of fertile cropping and grazing land facilitating high-protein grain production and top quality meat.

    • Extensive upgrades to transport networks, intermodal terminals, transport and logistics capability.

    Success
    • New England Agtech Cluster of research, development, entrepreneurial and commercial activity based in Armidale.

    • Agriculture contributes 18% of the NSW economy.

    • Specialist grain products for bread wheat, durum wheat and semolina for pasta production.

    For more information on Agribusiness and Food, please refer to the sector detail page.

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  • Renewable energy

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    Workforce
    • Strong annual employment growth of 3.5% since 2007 in the electricity services sector, compared to negligible growth in Sydney.

    • 700 new regional jobs added in energy generation in the last 3 years.

    Infrastructure
    • University of New England's research into second and third generation biofuels.

    • High average global solar exposure providing an ideal environment for large-scale solar systems.

    • Established energy infrastructure.

    Success
    • 12 new businesses added in electricity services between 2011 and 2015.

    • Licences granted to explore geothermal energy in Gunnedah Basins.

    • A$500 million Government Climate Change Fund for renewable energy investment.

    • Sapphire Wind Farm will be NSW’s largest wind farm, once operational in 2018, at 270 megawatts and comprising 75 turbines able to power 110,000 homes.

    For more information on Renewable Energy, please refer to the sector detail page.

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  • Freight, logistics and distribution

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    Workforce
    • 4,000 employed in transport, postal and warehousing services in the region.

    • A$37.10 hourly industry average wage compared to A$39.80 national average.

    • 3.6% average annual growth.

    Infrastructure
    • New England Highway upgrade complementing existing road, rail and air connections linking to major Australian markets and export ports.

    • A$8.4 billion Inland Rail construction offers North West towns new and expanded rail freight intermodal options.
    • Excellent climatic and airspace conditions for airport and aviation sector expansion.

    Success
    • AviSkills Aviation Engineering Training at Tamworth Airport services some of Australia’s largest civilian and defence organisations.
    • Additional private pilot training colleges considering expansion and establishment of operations at Tamworth Airport.
    • Regional aerodrome investment of A$52 million to train up to 600 aviation students.

    For more information on Freight, Logistics and Distribution, please refer to the sector detail page.

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Success stories

Get in touch

Darren Keegan

Deputy Director for New England and North West
Office contacts
131a Marius St
PO Box 865
TAMWORTH NSW 2340