COLAC businesses have received a boost after the Federal Government announced almost $4 million in grants to help create 40 new jobs for Colac and district.
Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson announced $3.5 million for AKD Softwoods and $384,467 for Irrewarra Sourdough.
The money is a part of the Geelong Regional Innovation and Investment Fund and will help create 20 new jobs at each Colac business.
The fund is a federal and state government $29.5-million package developed along with Ford Australia in response to Ford’s 2016 production closure.
Alcoa Australia expanded the fund in 2014 by contributing $5 million after its decision to close the Port Henry aluminium smelter.
AKD will use the grant money to go towards a $26.4-million investment project to update sawmill technology and upgrade the dry mill, improving productivity and recovery which will help the business’ international competitiveness.
Irrewarra Sourdough will use its grant towards a $926,000 project to help build a new facility at the businesses’ original site in Irrewarra.
The project will help the expansion of natural food manufacturing, including granola products through investment in innovation equipment and technology and internal plant for better productivity.
Ms Henderson said the announcement was good news for Colac and district and she was proud that the Colac businesses had performed well in the grant program.
“This is absolutely fantastic news for innovative Colac business which are doing so much to drive investment in local jobs and in advance manufacturing,” she said.
“This $11.2 million across the region will boost investment by $44 million because of the investment being made by the respective businesses.
“AKD have shown incredible vision with this investment and this state of the art facility will take AKD Softwoods from strength to strength.
“Similarly Irrewarra Sourdough is an extraordinary business and it’s wonderful to see the innovation occurring at Irrewarra and the new products.
“It is a great day for Colac when an important, local jobs fund can support businesses to grow and create more jobs for the region.”
Polwarth MP Richard Riordan said AKD had set a high benchmark as a community leader.
“I think people take it for granted but the business has really turned around, the place is buzzing and people are blown away at the level of professionalism,” Mr Riordan said.
“And it’s having natural flow on to the whole community. The funding is real win-win particularly for the people who work there,” he said.
“I also want to congratulate Irrewarra Sourdough, it’s a great business for Colac and the Calverts are committed to the area and investing in the community.
“The business provides great opportunities for the area and developing our image as a niche food producer.”
See Monday’s Colac Herald for more on the businesses projects.