State’s multi-million dollar business boost

THE State Government is injecting $266 million into the Latrobe Valley economy in the wake of energy giant Engie announcing it will close Hazelwood in late March.

In an effort to reduce the blow of 750 job losses at the brown coal power station and mine, the government is offering financial incentives and fee reimbursements to companies to start or expand their businesses in the Gippsland region.

Premier Daniel Andrews said for example a business purchasing a $500,000 property to move into the region could receive up to $25,000 reimbursement off their stamp duty.

“We are opening doors to businesses to bring jobs and opportunities to the Latrobe Valley and to keep the community and local economy strong,” Mr Andrews said.

It follows a Federal Government announcement yesterday of $43 million to support Hazelwood workers and their families.

Speaking to The Express a spokesperson for the Premier said the package could provide funds to schools in need of upgrading, improvements to the regional V/Line rail service as well as road upgrades in the local area.

The spokesperson said the government would speak to the local community about “what they need”, and projects of “priority”.

The Hazelwood closure is expected to raise the unemployment rate in the region, currently reported at 8.1 per cent in the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

Relevant projects under the ‘Economic Growth Zone’ program are expected to be considered case-by-case by the recently established Latrobe Valley Authority in Gippsland’s three local government areas: Latrobe City Council, Baw Baw Shire and Wellington Shire.

The State Government has also spruiked a ‘Red Tape Commissioner’ to break down regulatory barriers to future trade and investment.

The announcement is in addition to an existing $10 million economic fund and a $22 million support package to workers and businesses affected by the Hazelwood closure, including a Morwell transition centre.

More to come.