By MICHELLE SLATERLATROBE City Council has welcomed a $10 million state government investment to kick-start a large scale food manufacturing precinct in Morwell. Latrobe City Mayor Sharon Gibson said two businesses had already approached council to discuss setting up shop at the Princes Drive site since the funding was announced on Monday. Cr Gibson said she was “delighted” at the news, after council had put approvals in place a decade ago, to develop 44 prime industrial lots on 89 hectares next to the Bega factory. “With the closure of power stations we need to do something about transforming our local economy, and this is the start, this will help to future proof the Valley,” Cr Gibson said. “This is what we had been speaking about with both levels of governments and it’s a step forward. I’d like to see the cash so we can get on and do it.” The Victorian government has pledged the funding in this year’s State Budget for infrastructure to be in place to encourage food processors into the area, creating 1700 ongoing manufacturing jobs. It includes connecting power, water and sewage and site access for movement of heavy vehicles and manufacturing equipment. “Business are waiting for the infrastructure so there is no impediment for them to come and set up, we have companies all the time looking for prospects here,” Cr Gibson said. Labor Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said construction should start later this year for tenants to move in progressively. Ms Shing said Regional Development Victoria and the Latrobe Valley Authority had been working with the private sector to create the best environments to lure-in new or expanding businesses. Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he was “thrilled” the state government had “finally” provided the funding after repeatedly asking for essential services to be delivered to the site. Mr Northe said the project had been at an “impasse for so long that I was starting to lose hope”, and he thanked Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas for helping get it off the ground. “All planning approvals for the site were endorsed back in 2011, so it has been a long and frustrating road at times, and more so the frustration around lost opportunities from an employment perspective,” Mr Northe said. “I firmly believe there will be strong interest in this site which is ideally located for the food and fibre sector, and like many I will be keen to see the works completed at the earliest convenience.” Mr Northe said he hoped the state government would now invest in other pre-approved local projects such as the Lake Narracan housing development.