Industry funds are available

LATROBE Valley businesses have been urged to apply for funds through the State Government’s Latrobe Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund, in light of vast sums currently being allocated to West Gippsland.

Last week State Regional Minister and Rural Development Minister Peter Ryan oversaw the announcements of several new allocations, of $200,000 and more, to two Drouin businesses from the ‘Latrobe Valley’ fund.

Mr Ryan said the LVIIF, part of a State Government response to economic diversification needs in the region, incorporated boundaries wider than the traditional references to the Valley in accordance with agreement with the Federal Government.

He said when a joint ministerial taskforce was established for Latrobe Valley’s transition (to a low carbon economy) he and former Federal Regional Development Minister Simon Crean “agreed from the start of the process the boundaries would include Wellington, Latrobe and Baw Baw (council municipalities)”.

To date the LVIIF has allocated about $5.5 million spread across 15 projects Gippsland-wide, including a number in the Valley.

Mr Ryan said the fund intended to allocate about $15 million, but while it was “nominally” set to expire by mid-2014 “from our point of view I can say we are very keen to keep it operating”.

“It is proving most successful in terms of continuing the support to our local industries,” he said.

Mr Ryan said while two of the more recent allocations, of $200,000 to extend a Pureharvest warehouse in Drouin and $250,00 to Elite Pack in Drouin for its food tray production expansion, were concentrated at the western end of Gippsland “there is no element of this (fund) being mutually exclusive”.

“On the contrary, we are anxious to support any business that makes application to us from wherever they are located in that broad zone,” he said.

“Coincidentally the most recent applications have been from West Gippsland but we strongly welcome all comers and I urge the business sector to look at the advantages offered through this fund and make contact with Regional Development Victoria’s Traralgon office and we will be very keen to hear from them.”

Mr Ryan said the State Government wanted to see more applications “brought forward from the Latrobe Valley.”

“All those who have contacted us, we have been able to help… we have been able to assist in the development of established businesses to help them expand and change direction,” he said.

Mr Ryan said a key component of the fund was its assistance to the “backbone of our manufacturing sector”.

“They are employing five to 20 people and they form the vast percentage of these types of businesses,” Mr Ryan said.