More to Valley than coal: Cr Peter Gibbons

GIPPSLAND is looking beyond the coal industry and into the future as part of a new initiative aimed at promoting the region’s agriculture sector internationally.

Invest Gippsland, launched on Thursday at Narkoojee Winery, seeks to promote the region’s businesses worldwide and in return, drive investment into the area.

Latrobe City deputy mayor Peter Gibbons said the Valley had got to a time where a review was needed into the way things were done.

“It’s been 95 years of burning coal and we are starting to run out,” Cr Gibbons said.

“We need to start looking into ways to generate different sources of income.”

He said Invest Gippsland would bring community and businesses together and he hoped it would lead to a sustainable future for the region.

“If we all get together and do a transitional plan we will be sustainable into the future,” Cr Gibbons said.

“Everyone needs to make a commitment, if there is no commitment we won’t be able to move forward.”

Regional Development Australia Gippsland deputy chair Tim Weight said the initiative seeked to do just that.

“How do we drive investment into Gippsland and create jobs?” Mr Weight said.

“Sustainability relies on economic development and population growth and we hope to bring that.”

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said Invest Gippsland would focus on food exports to Asia and generate links between Gippsland and national and global supply chains to attract trade and investment.

“This is a great initiative that will create jobs and generate increased business and growth for Gippsland’s protein and horticultural products,” Ms Shing said.

“We’re supporting our local businesses so we can create greater export opportunities and build on the strengths of the Gippsland food industry.”

About 80 regional businesses from the food and fibre industry have come together for the initiative, along with key stakeholders in the agriculture field.

The food and fibre sector represents about 50 per cent of the region’s $14 billion gross regional products and employs more than 16,000 people.