Locals have not lost out on the project after the tender was awarded to an out-of-region business
Locals have not lost out on the project after the tender was awarded to an out-of-region business Iain Curry

Locals beaten on price but $7M project still a win for Coast

DESPITE the lucrative contract being awarded to a Sunshine Coast company, Fraser Coast suppliers are still set to benefit from the construction of the multi-million dollar airport precinct.

Acting mayor Darren Everard dismissed suggestions local businesses were snubbed during the $7.1 million tender process despite three local businesses missing out.

Councillors voted to give the tender to Sunshine Coast-based contractor Shadforths Civil Pty Ltd on Monday.

The Chronicle understands local suppliers will still be sourced during the construction process and are expected to provide materials and equipment to help start earthworks on the precinct, ranging from earth-moving machines to locally-sourced bitumen.

Cr Everard said Shadforths was awarded the tender because its offer was "compliant and the lowest on price".

While saying it was "a shame" a Fraser Coast company was not selected, he dismissed suggestions the local competitors had been "snubbed".

"There will be more opportunities for local companies in the future," Cr Everard said.

"It's a tender process, if companies want to register their disappointment I suppose there are official channels where they can do it.

"Tenderers are given a local content score, which takes into account factors such as the use of local materials, local assembly and fabrication, the level of local employment, value for money and the quality of products and services.

"Council recognises the need to support local businesses and contractors as much as possible, while at the same time ensuring ratepayers' money is spent wisely."

Under procurement policies passed by the council in 2018, a minimum of 10 per cent weighting is required for all local companies in tender evaluations.

When asked if local contractors had the capacity to undertake works on other upcoming industrial projects, including work on the Hervey Bay CBD and Maryborough munitions factory, Cr Everard said those were "operational matters".

"We don't know what they've got, how much gear they have to hire and if it comes at a cost," he said.

Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook said local companies needed to be aware it was a "competitive market" when it came to sourcing construction jobs.

"Just because we get a name we don't know, doesn't mean the region will lose out altogether," Ms Holebrook said.

"Locals have to be competitive within that broader marketplace."

Win Projects managing director Glen Winney said it was a "disappointment" to see the council had not put higher consideration on local companies.

"It's no reflection on Shadforths, they're a very good company," Mr Winney said.

"But unless there's a massive difference in price I always think locals should get the jobs first."

Part of the airport precinct includes the construction of a $12 million plane factory near the Hervey Bay Airport.

Plane manufacturer Astro Aero announced they had chosen a site near the Hervey Bay Airport for the construction of their factory in November 2018.

In awarding the tender to Shadforths, the council also finalised the sale of land with Red Diamond Pty Ltd, the parent company of Astro Aero.

Earthworks on the airport precinct are expected to finish on June 30, with construction to start shortly after.