Redevelopment of Cairns Convention Centre has reached a milestone, with a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the expansion phase of the $176 million project.

Cairns MP Michael Healy said the start of expansion works complemented refurbishment already underway at the site.

“The fact this significant project will be delivered by a predominantly local workforce demonstrates how serious the Palaszczuk Labor Government is about helping Cairns unite and recover from COVID-19,” Mr Healy said.

“There will be 570 people working on this site between now and final completion of the expansion in 2022.”

He said the Buy Queensland procurement policy was guaranteeing a target of ensuring at least 85 per cent of those tradies were from Cairns.

“Today 223 of the 256 workers inducted on site call Cairns home, that’s an 87 per cent local workforce,” he said.

Upgrades to the existing convention centre structure are on track to be completed by February 2021.

Key features of the next phase of work include a large undercover, tropically planted drop-off and entry forecourt, an expanded main entry lobby, a 410-seat plenary lecture space, three 120-seat meeting rooms and new exhibition space for up to 30 display booths.