Ipswich investment officer Julie Mark offers up some handy advice

JULIE Mark, Trade and Investment Queensland’s new Ipswich-based trade officer, has lived in the City for 20 years and has heard all the good and the bad. However, she says Ipswich and some of its innovative businesses are proving an “easy sell” to the world as part of her mission to build export growth in the region.

Julie Mark is Queensland’s first region-specific TIQ trade officer as part of a pilot program.

She is working with about 80 small and medium-sized enterprises in the region, helping them to either find new international markets or expand on their current sales overseas.

“There are a lot of great companies in and around Ipswich doing some very innovative things, offering these amazing products and services,” Ms Mark said.

“I am well aware of the reputation. But, honestly, I have seen a lot of improvement recently and a very bright future for Ipswich.”

In particular, SMEs involved in advanced manufacturing, education and training, mineral and energy resources, food and agribusiness, health and tourism, and ecommerce, were making their mark.

Her role is to provide trade and investment support to these businesses, including guidance on exporting to international markets, advice on attracting investment, and introductions to key business and government contacts.

“A lot of companies find it very challenging to think about taking their business overseas. But I am here to educate them and to provide that guidance … work through their export journey,” she said.

“I am trying to get companies to look at it in the long term. Some have already dipped their toes into the international market. I want to introduce them to opportunities to export to multiple markets globally.”

Ms Mark had been working with one local company specialising in virtual reality technology.

An initial application had been for aircraft maintenance at Amberley Airbase, but it was being shown to health and mining investors and had attracted considerable interest. Another involved high-tech equipment for sewerage treatment plants.

“We have lots of very smart people in the start-up sector. You only have to look at some of the accelerator hubs moving to Ipswich to unearth some of these bright, young entrepreneurs.

“Ipswich is really an easy sell overseas. Many investors are seeing what is happening in the city, seeing what is happening in places like Springfield, which has helped put Ipswich on the map.

“They are very interested in getting involved in our city and with our local businesses, especially when they see the great school and universities we have here and realise we are only 40 minutes from Brisbane.”

Ms Mark this week held her first manufacturing network session in the CBD, a collaborative initiative helping come up with potential contacts and targets.

“We are putting up some ideas. What are the opportunities offshore? What is the market asking for?

“One of my roles is to change people’s perceptions on exporting. Yes, there are risks involved, yes it is a lot more involved. But there are also plenty of positives and so many more opportunities to grow.”

Ms Mark said TIQ had trade commissioners across the world and offices in 13 countries.

“We want businesses in the Ipswich region to take advantage of all these opportunities.”

She stressed it was important to build on regional strengths, including the people, the type of business, the natural resources and the diversity we offer.

  1. Do your homework, which means plenty of market research
  2. Visit the market, go to the country where you want to sell
  3. Know exactly what is your niche offering, whether it is a service or product
  4. Know who your competitors are and where they’re based
  5. Be confident, believe you have something unique to offer the world

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