What happened on mayor Dempsey's networking trip to the US
BUNDABERG Mayor Jack Dempsey has just returned from the United States, confident that an emerging international biofuel and waste market could increase protections for the local sugar industry.
Cr Dempsey said he networked with a key influencer for energy policies in the United States government while part of a Queensland trade and investment meeting in Philadelphia held across four days last week.
He had invited the retired military leader to Bundaberg along with Queensland policy makers to further discuss how the regional coastal city could capitalise on future markets, although there were no dates set for any proposed meetings.
While visiting the State of Pennyslvania's capital city for BIO 2019, he was reminded of the challenges facing the sugar industry by witnessing the State's 'soda tax' against sugar based sweeteners.
"We want to future proof our sugar farmers into the future, we see what's happening in the industry,” Cr Dempsey said.
"That's going to continue worldwide so these are pressures that are disruptors to our agricultural area.
"We want to make sure we talk to the right people and take up those opportunities and who knows where that might lead into the future.”
There was also an emerging market in Europe for packaging and clothing made of biomaterials.
The concept of branding Bundaberg as a hub for waste products and biofuel exports was not "rocket science.”
"(We have) very underutilised port infrastructure, we are surrounded by cane fields, and sugar is certainly one of the products in relation to biofuels,” Cr Dempsey said.
"I was able to meet with...one of the heads of defence of America, in relation to supply for not just their fleets but aviation.
"And considering we are the most northern port outside of the Great Barrier Reef for many years to come, we are strategically placed and we certainly want to have those options.”
There were more than 100 delegates from Queensland attending BIO 2019, including Minister for Innovation Kate Jones, Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett, and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson.
Following the conference, it was revealed by Cr Williamson that international company Genomatica was considering setting up a biochemical hub in Mackay.
The company was interested in using sugar to produce biochemicals.
Cr Dempsey said that the mayors attending the conference "work as a team for Queensland.”
"But we are very parochial for our own individual regions,” Cr Dempsey said.
While attending the conference, Ms Jones tweeted the benefits of attending. "We have some of the best and brightest Life Sciences experts in the world. But funding is hard to come by.
"We are creating opportunities for Queensland experts to pitch to some of the world's most recognised venture capitalists.”