Regional Growth Fund assists expansion, creates jobs

Published on : Sunday, November 10, 2013

victoria-state-governmentThe Victorian Coalition Government is investing $1.5 million from its $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to help transform a Gippsland vegetable farm into a national food company.

In Longford, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said he was delighted to support the $5.02 million expansion project at Covino Farms Pty Ltd.

“This project will transform Covino Farms from a farming operation into a national food business, operating out of five sites and across six states with new innovative product and export potential,” Mr Ryan said.

“The expansion will include a new vegetable processing factory, new research and development and testing laboratories, offices, vegetable and salads processing equipment and IT infrastructure.”

The expansion will include a new 4,763 m2 building of steel and EPS (expanded polystyrene) housing the new factory, plus an 880 m2 despatch/loading bay and laboratory. A new 440 m2 research and development, training and administration facility will also be built.

The expansion will also see the purchase of the following new production lines and ancillaries:

a 3,600 bags per hour salad line;
a 1,350 kg per hour coleslaw line;
a 2,000 kg per hour multi washer preparation line;
a 1,200 kg per hour washing and drying line; and
a 20,000 kg lettuce or 3,000 kg salads per hour vacuum cooler.

“This project will create up to 60 new jobs and will secure the existing 200 employees,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said Ugo and Maria Covino started the family business on a 16-acre property in the Dandenong Ranges in 1972 before moving to 500 acres in Longford to take advantage of reliable artesian water and a temperate climate that enables year-round vegetable production.

“The 2,600-acre Longford farm now supplies vegetables and salads to markets in Victoria, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide and is negotiating to expand distribution,” Mr Ryan said.

“This will involve an increase in Covino Farms’ processing capacity, which requires government funding to secure the investment in time to seize market and employment opportunities.

“Projects such as this one at Covino Farms will also enable the Latrobe Valley to diversify away from a reliance on the coal-fired power generation industry.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government was funding the project through the $15 million Latrobe Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund (LVIIF).

“The LVIIF is helping Latrobe Valley companies reposition themselves for sustainable long-term growth,” Mr Ryan said.

“LVIIF is part of our $1 billion Regional Growth Fund. The Regional Growth Fund has provided more than $340 million to support almost 1,200 projects across regional and rural Victoria, leveraging almost $1.5 billion in total investment.”

In Wellington Shire, the Regional Growth Fund has provided more than $6.6 million to 35 projects worth a total of $15.52 million. Those projects include:

$150,000 for the $380,000 Maffra Cheese Company Capacity Expansion Project;
$500,000 for the $2.1 million Australian Sustainable Hardwoods Value Adding/Expansion project in Heyfield; and
$150,000 for the $440,000 Precast Concrete Panel Facility Expansion project in Sale.

Source:- Victoria


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