A new report says support for regional manufacturing has grown.
The report into the public's perception of Australian manufacturing and its understanding of the industry has found that South Australians' support for manufacturing is most significant in regional areas.
The federal government's Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) has released its latest research into manufacturing, comparing data collected in early 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, to today.
AMGC has contrasted the awareness and attitudes toward local manufacturing and its report showed that support is higher today compared to pre-COVID.
Ninety-four per cent of regional South Australians indicated manufacturing was important or very important, rising from 12 point over the pre-pandemic survey.
AMGC director for South Australia Michael Sharpe said the state had a proud heritage of manufacturing, especially in regional areas.
"AMGC understands the potential the state has to offer and has co-invested in numerous manufacturing projects," he said.
"Now is the moment to invite deeper investment into local manufacturing capability and for the successful outcomes to be shared broadly."
The importance of manufacturing in town is clear, as Nyrstar said in a statement it was "vital to the national, state and local economies, and to the Port Pirie and geographically close local communities".
It employs 800 direct employees and 300 contractors in Port Pirie, and even in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Australia provided employment opportunities.
"This commitment to the local community is also highly visible through its ongoing financial support of numerous community events, sporting clubs and community groups," a company spokesperson said.
The smelter is Port Pirie's major employer and the company said it has a "long-term commitment to the region" and that it was essential for Nyrstar for the city's businesses, families and community groups to continue to thrive.
"Accordingly, Nyrstar continues investing in local recruitment, procurement, environmental and safety improvements and community sponsorships," the spokesperson said.
"This financial year alone, through its Local Procurement program Nyrstar will spend more than $80 million on sourcing goods and services in Port Pirie and the region - this is a 40 percent increase over the last two years.
"This spend on local procurement is an essential lifeline for big and small businesses in Port Pirie and helps secure additional future jobs for the Port Pirie community."
Nyrstar said its ongoing investment to deliver a sustainable business demonstrated its confidence in the long- term, secure and prosperous future of the city of Port Pirie.
The research also revealed the public was less clear about the value and breadth of manufacturing's contribution to local jobs, economy and trade.