More than 600 jobs will be created in regional Queensland after the Palaszczuk Government allocated more $3.14 million in Rural Economic Development grants to 15 rural businesses.
Businesses from the Lockyer Valley, Southern Downs, Toowoomba, Goondiwindi, Bundaberg, Cassowary Coast, Cairns, Mareeba and the Tablelands have received up to $250,000 in co-contribution grants to purchase innovative equipment and build new infrastructure to create jobs and expand agricultural supply chains.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the latest round of RED Grant funding would provide a timely economic boost and help to build industry, support rural communities and grow employment opportunities across the agricultural sector.
“Creating jobs is at the heart of Queensland’s $8 billion plan for economic recovery, and the job supported by these grants will be a real shot in the arm to these communities,” Mr Furner said.
“A wide range of fruit and vegetable processing and packaging facilities, a regional meatworks, nurseries and a bio manufacturing facility were among the successful businesses funded in this round.
“Some businesses will expand infrastructure to increase productivity, sustainability and energy efficiency, or improve post-harvest handling and new processing capability or develop new and more water efficient systems of farming in their industries.
“All the projects will create new jobs for regional Queensland. In total 251 direct full-time jobs will be created, another 90 during construction and 346 indirect full-time positions will need to be filled to make these projects come to life.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the additional jobs in Mareeba would be a boost for the community.
“Any investment in growing our agricultural industries is good for the local economy and good for local jobs,” Ms Lui said.
“That is what the Palaszczuk Government is committed to – helping Queenslanders into jobs.”:
21 jobs – Russgo’s Wholesale Plants at Mareeba
Director Russell James, a seventh-generation nurseryman, said the project included a half an acre multi span greenhouse and infrastructure to minimise exposure to the elements and greater environmental controls which would enable faster production times and extended growing seasons.
“It will ensure early supply of stock into the marketplace, especially in spring which has historically been and will continue to be in high demand,” Mr James said.
“Increased production will also assist in meeting the higher supply demands from existing customers and provide opportunities to investigate new markets.”
The project will support 12 regional agriculture jobs, another four during construction as well as five indirect jobs.
“Adding nurseryman to our current workforce will enable defined job roles, ultimately giving us higher skills levels and quicker production times in all areas including inbound logistics, potting and laying out, weed and infrastructure management, stock controls, picking and sorting and outbound logistics,” Mr James said.
“By essentially doubling our workforce through this project, our organisation as a whole will be exponentially more efficient throughout our entire operation.”
Mr James said demand for indoor plants had increased by more than 300% in the last five years and the industry was yet to reach market capacity.
“This project will see our site production increase by close to 300%, meeting additional consumer requirements and providing opportunities to explore other sales avenues,” he said.
Up to 50 jobs – Mackays Produce Solutions at Tully
Chief Financial Officer Fiona Nicotra said the funding would be used to carry out the third stage of their fruit processing facility expansion.
“The first stage of the expansion involved the purchase and commissioning of an Individual quick freezing machine, that delivers a superior frozen product by freezing it instantly,” Ms Nictora said.
“Stage two of the project includes the development of a puree line, to safely turn whole bananas into a marketable puree form.
“This project is stage three, which is the purchase of specialised equipment for slicing and pouch packing frozen fruit to produce a retail ready pack.”
The decision to expand Mackays current fruit processing facility was to meet consumer demand for the frozen products.
“The development of this line also enables MPS to explore wider markets both domestically and internationally, through an improved capability to deliver high volume orders,” Ms Nicotra said.
The Tully region is expected to benefit greatly from this expansion project providing greater economic development and new employment opportunities.
“The Tully region will benefit directly from the project with approximately $250,000 returned to growers within the first three years through the sale of product that would otherwise be dumped,” Ms Nicotra said.
“Employment opportunities will continue to increase as capacity increases. There is also the opportunity to process other lines including papaya, avocado and mango.”
The project is expected to create up to 50 direct and indirect jobs during and post construction.
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administers the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.