Penang has over 45 years of industrial experience and almost 300,000 persons employed directly in the manufacturing industries. In tandem with the expansion in industrial development, many industrial parks have been developed to accommodate the manufacturing and support services activities in Penang.
Industrial Land Use
From 2013-2017, all districts recorded a positive growth of industrial land use with a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 0.3% and 8.6%, except for the northwest district, which recorded a negative CAGR. In general, all districts in Seberang Perai (i.e. North Seberang Perai, Central Seberang Perai and South Seberang Perai) recorded higher industrial land use compared to those located in Penang Island (northeast and southwest). Noticeably, in this five-year period, many companies have announced their investments in the industrial parks in Seberang Perai, especially in the emerging Batu Kawan Industrial Park situated at South Seberang Perai.
In terms of industry type, the medium industry is dominant in industrial land in all five districts in Penang1 (Figure 1). With the exception of the northeast district, industrial land in all other districts has higher land use for heavy industry compared to light industry.
Penang Development Corporation Industrial Parks
The Penang Development Corporation (PDC) – the state government’s development arm – has developed six industrial parks with land area of over 5,890 acres.2 These industrial parks include the Bayan Lepas Industrial Park, Mak Mandin Industrial Park, Seberang Jaya Industrial Park, Perai Industrial Park, Bukit Minyak Industrial Park and Penang Science Park, and Batu Kawan Industrial Park (Figure 2). The Bayan Lepas Industrial Park is the first Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Malaysia, with a land area of approximately 1,400 acres. Besides that, in May 2017, the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) awarded the HALMAS certification to the Food Zone Area at North Penang Science Park (Penang Development Corporation, 2017).
There is a sustained inflow of investments and re-investments into the industrial parks of PDC. Between 2014 and 2017, a range of 21-38 companies per annum invested and re-invested in PDC’s industrial parks (Table 2). However, these companies do not include companies that are investing by way of purchasing from a secondary industrial market, sub-sale and sub-lease, and can either be in the manufacturing sector or supporting industries such as warehousing and logistics. Furthermore, it is expected that there are also additional investments channelled into industrial parks that are developed by private industrial developers.
Approved manufacturing data shows robust inflows into PDC-operated industrial parks (Figure 3). Taking re-investment and new investment into consideration, the Bayan Lepas and Prai Industrial Parks made up the largest share of total approved manufacturing investments in 2017 and 2018. Meanwhile, Batu Kawan remained as the third largest industrial park in approved investment inflow, making up about 14% of the entire approved manufacturing investments in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Nevertheless, re-investment inflow is still largely seen in the mature industrial parks like Bayan Lepas and Prai.
In addition, PDC also develops units to rent to companies, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs). As of July 2018, 70 units of PDC’s industrial spaces had been rented out in different locations (Table 2). It should be noted that these available spaces have designated specific manufacturing activities for different units.
With a total rentable area of 129,481 sq ft, the Penang SME Centre at Bayan Lepas, on the other hand, caters to the needs of SMEs by providing space for SMEs to run their business activities at a reasonable lease rate. Rental rates begin from as low as RM1.50 per sq ft/month depending on level and years of operation in the building (Table 4). Due to the fact that the existence of SMEs is vital in providing ancillary support services to the multinational corporations, the Penang SME Centre was constructed to incubate local start-ups, and provide space for SMEs that do not have their own facility.
1See Guideline for Sitting and Zoning of Industries published by the Department of Environment for classification of light, medium and heavy industrial zones.
2 While PDC develops most of Penang’s industrial land, not all industrial land in Penang are solely developed by PDC. There are also other private industrial parks/developments.