68 jobs: $10m Coast business expansion locked in

Growth of leading aerospace company HeliMods at Caloundra has been fast-tracked by more than 10 years with the announcement of a $10 million expansion.

Part-funded by the Coast enterprise and the State Government, owner Will Shrapnel said the project would create more high-paying engineering and manufacturing jobs.

The expansion will be delivered over the next four years, eventually more than doubling employment numbers by 68 people.

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Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles visited the facility on Monday to announce the partnership.

Mr Miles, who was in the Sunshine Coast for the first Community Cabinet of the re-elected Labor Government, compared the business to a “child like dream”.

HeliMods has gradually grown during the past 20 years to being a global exporter and leader in helicopter modification and manufacturing.

HeliMods’ founder Will Shrapnel is looking forward to expanding the Caloundra business over the next three to four years.

Mr Shrapnel said the expansion would make it easier for engineers and highly-skilled tradespeople to stay in the region instead of relocating to find employment elsewhere.

“I think we need to shift the conversation away from what the Sunshine Coast looks like as a place to retire to what does it look like for a place to gain education, employment and create new valuable industries,” he said.

The extra capacity will allow HeliMods to boost its exports and compete for larger defence force contracts.

While they have been restricted this year, Mr Shrapnel said usually exports would mainly be to North America.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles at Sunshine Coast aerospace facility HeliMods. HeliMods has received assistance through the Palaszczuk Government's Jobs and Regional Growth Fund. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles at Sunshine Coast aerospace facility HeliMods. HeliMods has received assistance through the Palaszczuk Government’s Jobs and Regional Growth Fund. Picture: Patrick Woods.

He said they hoped to also boost exports into Europe within the next five to 10 years.

“Last year 40 per cent of our revenue was from exports … this year exporting has been affected, but my aim is to see that we re-emerge through this even better,” he said.

He said the expansion would be at their current facility at Caloundra, but added they were keen to explore opportunities in the future to create more industry within the area.

Without the government funding he said the expansion could have taken seven to 10 years.

The government is yet to release details of the value of the funding from the Jobs and Regional Growth Fund, due to discussions still being under way around project conditions.

In December last year the company also won support from the Federal Government, to help reach new opportunities in global markets.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price announced the business received $150,000 under the Defence Global Competitiveness Grants program.

The funding was used to purchase plant and equipment to manufacture large machined components used in the modification and upgrade of military and paramilitary helicopters.