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Published: 26th January, 2015

NETWORKER LINING UP KEY PLAYERS

The manufacturing sector may not have picked up much in 2014 but a look back at the activities of Wollongong's industry cluster shows no effort was spared by members to try and win more business for the region.

In a review of the year, Illawarra Innovative Industry Network (i3net) chairman Emilio Salucci described it as a busy and ever-changing year with new members, new events, new innovations and a new executive officer being appointed.

Speaking at the annual meeting, Mr Salucci said i3net was moving forward in a positive and dynamic way to ensure Illawarra industries could take advantage of business opportunities that arose, locally and Australia-wide.

He said 2014 started with an industry breakfast featuring Snowy Hydro giving members an overview of a major modernisation project that was extending the life of major assets. That was followed in March by representatives of the Fortescue Metals Group doing one-on-one meetings that provided business opportunities for several members.

Among the more unusual industry breakfasts was one that gave a unique perspective on recycling nappies, showing members there were opportunities to think outside the box.

During the year, i3net farewelled executive officer Sandy Haig to the University of Wollongong and welcomed Andrew Jeffrey as her replacement.

In following meetings CommSec's chief economist Craig James spoke about the economy, looked at the future and delivered encouraging news.

Representatives from Rio Tinto contacted i3net requesting meetings with local members such as Klondu and WGE. The mining company later described the visit as exceeding its expectations.

Hansons provided an update on its $100 million investment at Shellharbour's Bass Point quarry and the same meeting included a presentation about the new Steel Research Hub at the University of Wollongong.

There was a presentation on Australand's investment of $500 million in the new marina at Shell Cove and updates on new developments at NSW Ports including the much anticipated go-ahead for National BioDiesel's Port Kembla facility.

Mr Salucci said none of that would have been possible without such proactive members and the board looked forward to continue working with them.

A premier event would be held in the second half of the year called Showcase 2015, allowing i3net members to showcase their capabilities to decision makers from a range of industries throughout Australia and Asia