TSBE says farm exports on way in face of funding criticism

FORGING farming export links to China is one of the next big projects for the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, whose public-purse funding has come under fire this week.

CEO of the business advocacy group Shane Charles has responded to a Toowoomba Regional Councillor's push for the body to rely entirely on its membership fees.

Mr Charles has issued a statement outlining TSBE's achievements to date - hinting that major export prospects were on the way, presumably going hand-in-hand with the opening of Wellcamp Airport later this year.

He said the agricultural push complements the majority of TSBE's work in the mining sector, linking the region's suppliers with major companies which often "only know Brisbane, which is to the detriment of local firms who can compete for work".

"Our recent research in middle-class China around protein food markets has been particularly exciting for the sector, revealing specific opportunities directly relevant to protein food producers in the region," he said.

Cr Bill Cahill this week called on council to shift its $450,000 annual TSBE funding into creating a new advocacy group for small and medium-sized businesses.

The push was made on the assumption that higher-end economic development driven by TSBE would carry on regardless of ratepayers' input.

No other councillors have supported the move.

Council will make a final decision next week on whether to provide TSBE with $1.35 million over the next three years.

Topics:  agriculture business council toowoomba and surat basin enterprise toowoomba regional council tsbe