Tasty project

Michelle Slater

THE Latrobe Valley is receiving a $10 million state government windfall to turn an 89 hectare parcel of land on Princes Drive into a major food manufacturing precinct.

The long-awaited Morwell Food Manufacturing Precinct will accommodate up to 44 prime industrial lots to lure food and fibre processors to invest on the site next to Bega Cheese.

The Victorian government has dropped the announcement in an exclusive pre-State Budget, with the funding expected to fast-track the project being driven by Latrobe City Council.

The funding will be used to prepare the site for factories to move in and include connecting power, water and sewage, and prepare better access for heavy vehicles and manufacturing equipment.

.The project will create local construction jobs, with the potential to support 1700 ongoing manufacturing jobs once up and running.

Labor Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said she was looking forward to the precinct taking shape and businesses moving in.

“Morwell is moving ahead. Investments like this build momentum and create a future of new and emerging industries with a spread of jobs and opportunities,” Ms Shing said.

The state government hopes the investment will provide transition opportunities for the region leading into the closure of the Yallourn Power Station in the next seven years.

The investment will strengthen Gippsland’s $7 billion food and fibre sector and support the diversification of the local economy.

Latrobe City had approved a development plan for the new industrial lots in 2011, with sites ranging from 8000 square metres to 4.5 hectares, with exiting industrial buffer zones for noise and amenity.

According to Latrobe City, the site offers competitive advantage for prospective food processors with freeway access and a workforce with strong agribusiness and manufacturing skills.

The manufacturing hub will be located next to Bega – one of Australia’s largest food and beverage companies – already demonstrating commercial viability of food manufacturing in Morwell.

Latrobe City has also spruiked the merits for processors to access Gippsland’s dairy, meat and vegetable industries.

Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas said the $10 million project would boost “vital” manufacturing capacity and act as a catalyst for more economic development.

“We promised to back Latrobe Valley workers and that’s what we’re doing,” Ms Thomas said.

“The investments we have made will deliver the services and support local needs, while at the same time creating new local jobs.”