BENDIGO could supercharge its economy during the pandemic rebuild, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott says.
It just needs the right message and policy settings, she has said ahead of a business lunch in Bendigo on Friday.
"When I look at the world, I think the opportunity for Australian regions and know-how is insurmountable," she said.
"We've just got to get things aligned a bit better."
The Business Council is preparing for its first Bendigo event since COVID-19 arrived in Australia and regional economic recovery will be a top topic of conversation.
Sky News chief news anchor Kieran Gilbert will host a panel with Ms Westacott, chief Woolworths reputation officer Christian Bennett, Bendigo Bank managing director Marnie Baker and Be.Bendigo advocacy lead Rob Stephenson.
Ms Westacott is also planning on visiting business McCullochs Hydraulic Engineers, which she says could hold clues Bendigo needs to muscle in on global advanced manufacturing markets.
"The question I will be asking people will be 'is McCullochs just the tip of the iceberg, and can we think about more advanced manufacturing being done out of Bendigo?'" she said.
McCullochs has already supplied parts for The Australian Defence Force's armoured personnel carriers, built at Thales' Finn Street factory.
Manufacturing is already Bendigo's biggest industry, according to economic consultants at REMPLAN, but Ms Westacott says there could be more done to market it to international defence manufacturers, should the city want it.
"I want to talk to the community about what people think are specialties and how we can help coordinate those," she said.
"Maybe we can attract some more of these big anchor companies, because they can spin off another McCullochs or other small and medium sized businesses.
"That's what we need, across Australia, to really get the place going."
The Business Council is considering how different regional cities could showcase themselves on the global stage as the economy roars back to life.
Bendigo would be different in key ways to other cities as its backbone is the Bendigo Bank, Ms Westacott said.
If she was in Ballarat, she would be talking more about how IBM might be central to a global showcase, she volunteered as an example.
Bendigo has a host of potential hinge points, she said.
"You've got a very big, community focused bank, you've got great educational institutions, you're close to Melbourne and have an ambition to be the '100 gigabytes city'," Ms Westacott said, referring to a push to speed up internet connections.
"If we are going to be in the frontier economy and do different things, we need to make sure we have the technology underpinnings."
The business lunch is a Strong Australia roadshow event that will take place at noon at the All Seasons Bendigo. For more information or to book a place, visit www.strongaustralia.net/bendigo_june_2022
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