THE next few years look to be full of golden opportunities for Southern Downs business owners, as the first meeting of the Export Network Forum paved the way for locals to capitalise on future export prospects.
The forum was held yesterday morning and with the completion of the Toowoomba airport just around the corner, business owners voiced their opinions on how the council's Economic Development Unit could help connect them to new overseas markets.
Jackie Chard from Ascot Cattle Co went to the export forum out of interest in what could be happening within the community.
"I think (the network) is in its infancy, but it can only bring good things," she said.
"It is very positive and timely particularly in view of the Wagners airport.
"I think it is going to create opportunities and flow-on effects throughout the region."
Mrs Chard said Ascot Cattle Co would likely be interested in exporting genetics, not live cattle or meat.
"It is certainly interesting and you need to follow up on these avenues and see where it takes you," she said.
"I'm glad to see the Economic Development Unit taking this by the horns and I'm excited to see some of these ideas coming forward and not stagnating."
Mrs Chard said the connections with government, other business people and the industry could be valuable for Southern Downs business owners who are thinking about exporting in the future.
"It's about connecting people together if you have a query, an opportunity to ask and put things forward - people might not have known how to go about that," she said.
"On your own you might not be able to seek it out."
Local artist Phyllis Seidl of Phyllis Sieldl Studio creates collectable dolls and said the network would provide some real guidance she could use.
"I can speak for myself that there were at least two people there I will be specifically speaking to about how they can help me with export development," she said.
"Basically my business plan is fairly clear to me.
"We all have our goals well defined but we can certainly use some help and guidance.
"It's interesting to see other people there that are developing ideas and what they are working on - we are all in the same boat."
Mrs Seidl said in the past she had to market the dolls by going overseas to market and trade shows.
"It was expensive and flying overseas is exhausting," she said.
"The world has changed and now it is possible for people to do business online."
About three years ago, Mrs Seidl came out of retirement and started the planning process of importing directly from China.
"Anything can be made in China, as cheaply as you can imagine and as beautiful as you can imagine," she said.
"They can do it to the standard you want, as long as you're prepared to pay fair price to get a beautiful product.
"We toured the factory and there was no one working in sweat shop conditions.
"As soon as a sample has been produced that we are 100 per cent happy with, we will be ordering it and selling online."
For more information on the Export Network Forum, call Jenny Sherrin on 4681 5527.
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