TOUGH times can make or break a city, and Ipswich is certainly no stranger to doing it tough. But in construction at least, things are not too bleak, and anyone who visits Nicholas St can see the continuing work.
Chairman of one of Australia’s biggest privately owned construction firms, Scott Hutchinson, said the city was helping to make a difference.
Visiting the city to mark a construction milestone for the Venue redevelopment in Ipswich’s Nicholas Street Precinct, the chair of Hutchinson Builders said the company kept close ties to the Ipswich community.
Mr Hutchinson praised council for its approach to revitalising the city’s heart in Nicholas St.
“It is so important to keep the centre of a town alive and (keep it as) the entertainment centre. We are doing that in Fortitude Valley – you can’t let the centres go.
“It’s great that the council is doing it here – and we are delighted to be associated with this project.”
Hutchinson Builders has close ties to the Ipswich community, spanning many years.
Mr Hutchinson said a significant percentage of the Hutchinson’s workforce was from Ipswich, meaning that “wherever the job is, there’s local people employed wherever we work”.
That potentially includes Mr Hutchinson –¬¬ “my paternal grandmother was from Ipswich, so I’m a quarter ’switch”.
Hutchinson Builders has completed more than 7500 projects in its 110-year history, worth a combined value of $35 billion.
Mr Hutchinson said strong, lasting relationships with communities such as Ipswich had helped support the firm during the recent construction boom that sent costs soaring.
“(Connections) are important, especially now when businesses are really looking for people,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“Nobody can get labour – it’s a nightmare out there. It’s out of Ipswich that we are getting the good trades.
“The community’s more important to Hutchies than Hutchies is to the community.”
Mr Hutchinson said Hutchies’ connection with the community included formal links such as its apprenticeship pipeline program with St Edmund’s College.
“St Edmund’s is our major pipeline for people,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“The work wasn’t much fun but they came back with house deposits that set them up for life.”