Innovative manufacturers - and the jobs they create - have moved to the eastern and south-eastern suburbs. JAMES TAYLOR finds out why.
When you've found a good spot, stay on it. That's what some manufacturers are thinking about as they set up base in the outer east and south-east.
With the region expanding at a rate of knots, innovative workplaces are creating jobs, cutting commutes and keeping our best and brightest closer to home.
One Bayswater company is putting the manufacturing industry on the cutting edge with its vital role in the Joint Strike Fighter project. Rosebank Engineering has facilities at Royal Australian Air Force bases in NSW and Queensland but chose Bayswater as an affordable place for its headquarters.
The company has been awarded the contract to manufacture and repair aircraft landing gear and components for actuator systems - which it designed, created, tested and assembled - for at least the next 15 years.
Rosebank has a unique collection of sophisticated equipment for precision machining - down to the width of a human hair - parts that can withstand the high speeds, temperature extremes and G forces of modern aeronautical performance.
"There are lots of people who can do parts of what we can do, but no one can do everything we can under the one roof," says head of business development and sales David Wallace.
Elsewhere in Bayswater, independent developer Wicked Witch Software has put its stamp on AFL Wii, the official video game version. The game was not created by a huge team at AFL headquarters in Docklands but by the Wicked Witch team.
Chief executive Daniel Visser says IT businesses can thrive in the city's outer limits. "With modern communication we are able to deal with companies all around the world in multiple time zones very easily from our desks, so there's no real problem with being outside of Melbourne. Most of the the guys who work here live nearby too.
"I do travel into the CBD once or twice a fortnight for meetings. However, outside of peak-hour traffic, it only takes about half an hour and that's all I really notice."
Born and raised in the outer east, Mr Visser moved to the city to work on video games. "It made sense to return to Bayswater when I wanted to establish my own studio with some friends who I'd gone to school with, as they also lived in the area.
"When speaking to clients on the phone I still get asked where I am, as they're surprised to hear birds in the background. I tell them I am in sunny Bayswater, of course. Where else?"
Plans are on to bolster manufacturing further down in the south-east, with the state government encouraging companies to set up outside the CBD. Its south-east growth corridor plan, released in June, forecasts 2370 hectares of industrial land and 1290 hectares of business land in three new employment precincts.
The largest of these will be built south of the Pakenham Bypass and stretch from Soldiers Road in Berwick to Koo Wee Rup Road in Pakenham. The Growth Areas Authority says the precinct has good freight and public transport connections, and will be an attractive location for a wide range of advanced manufacturing and commercial enterprises.
Automotive manufacturer Injectronics, set up in Dandenong in the 1980s, tapped into a growing trade in selling to workshops in the USA and Europe.
The company developed a reputation as the go-to business for fuel injection problems and, 10 years ago, wanted to relocate.
Founder Rex Vandenberg consulted his staff, who thought that moving one suburb over to Hallam would be good for them and the business.
"We were planning on a move, and we said to the staff, 'This is what we're thinking of. What do you think?'. For them, Hallam was a whole lot nicer than being on the other side of Dandenong," he says.
Figures released last week show Victoria will need 180,000 extra jobs in the next five years and the region will play a big role in achieving that target.
Manufacturing, Exports and Trade Minister Richard Dalla-Riva says the south-east corridor - covering Dandenong, the Casey-Cardinia employment area and the Port of Hastings - is one of Australia's most economically significant regions. "This corridor has the greatest concentration of jobs outside Melbourne's CBD and is a key area for the manufacturing industry.
"Manufacturing hubs in suburban Melbourne and regional Victoria provide local jobs, and enable these businesses to collaborate, establish business-to-business networks, and pursue new business and market opportunities, such as export markets."
Mr Vandenberg initially considered moving closer to an airport but was happy with settling in the south-east. "Our staff live in places like Berwick and Cranbourne, so they're able to get to work and get home more easily. If we were a little bit further out, then we might have trouble with couriers.
"But with the freeways and highways here, we can basically get anything anywhere in Australia overnight. Yes, Hallam is in the outer eastern suburbs, but it's still very connected."