The Council of Greater Geraldton has revealed plans to build out a technology park aimed at attracting mining and other businesses to the area.
The city will use a $500,000 consulting grant won under IBM’s ‘Smarter Cities’ program to build out facilities at the council-owned Geraldton Airport that could support mining operations north of the town.
It will also provide access to data processing facilities at Geraldton University that could provide cheaper data transmission between mining facilities and company headquarters.
Greater Geraldton mayor Ian Carpenter told iTnews the technology park had already attracted interest from the Durack Institute of Technology, which planned to take out space for a mining training facility.
Regional airline Skywest had also begun a move of its booking facility from Perth to Geraldton in a bid to capitalise on the city’s recent connection to the National Broadband Network.
“We’ve got quite a reasonable amount of land out there. Brookfield Rail have put in a marshalling yard and just over the road is where all the major truck depots are so from a logistical point of view it’s going to be very good,” Carpenter said.
The city won the IBM grant after its second application for the consulting deal. Geraldton is the second Australian winner after Townsville last year, and one of a 100 cities IBM expects to provide the grant to globally over three years.
As part of the grant, six IBM consultants will spend three weeks living in the city before providing recommendations to the council on urban development, planning and IT investment.
The software giant said Geraldton’s submission hinged on the “city’s desire to capitalise on recent technology infrastructure investments within the region”.
Carpenter said the grant was “fantastic news” for the city.
“In principle, the main benefit to us is going to be from the fact that we have the National Broadband [Network] in Geraldton,” he said.
The city has already received fibre connections to some residential areas part of the NBN rollout and has been picked as a trial site for the first fixed wireless rollout.
It also used some fibre pairs built out as part of the Federal Government regional blackspot program to connect several council buildings and provide greater connection to Geraldton University, where a data sorting facility is being planned.
Carpenter said the city was looking to make itself more attractive to mining companies as an IT hub for regional mines.
“Any mining companies that want to relocate their IT offices to Geraldton pretty much get local rates in the north-west, from Geraldton,” he said.