MAJOR expansion plans by Howlong pet food manufacturer, Cool Off, were central to securing one of the biggest cash splashes in the federal government’s latest building better regions funding round announced on Thursday.
The father-son owned business and two other companies, VK Logic and Killens Trucking, will immediately press ahead with plans to build two export facilities, truck depot and engineering warehouse after a $6.9 million government funding injection.
The total project cost is $15.7 million with Federation Council committing around $2 million towards the creation of 16 blocks in the Howlong industrial estate nearby Cool Off.
Managing director Edward Staughton said the Howong industrial precinct was a mini-Logic with the creation of a guaranteed 60 jobs by the company which already employs more than 200 people.
“It is a game-changer for Howlong and the regional economy,” he said.
“Our local businesses are attracting global attention, but need the space and infrastructure to grow.”
Cool Off is part of the Staughton Group comprising three other companies linked to the manufacture of pet food and ingredients to export markets.
“What this grant will bring is the opportunity to really invest in this site and step up and create a world-class manufacturing operation,” Mr Staughton said.
Farrer MP Sussan Ley couldn’t remember a time when a similar-sized town in her electorate was the recipient of almost $7 million in one funding announcement.
“It underscores the government’s commitment to jobs and growth in rural Australia,” she said.
“I can remember years ago when I worked in the tax office we had a lot of people come from Howlong and it was a dormitory suburb.
“(But) with the region at its doorstep, Howlong is now going to kick some goals.”
The maximum amount which could be applied for was $10 million.
Federation Council administrator Mike Eden said Cool Off’s expansion was the catalyst for creating more badly needed industrial land and potentially further jobs.
“They are local jobs and real jobs,” he said.
“We didn’t have any other industrial land here and didn’t have anywhere else to go.
“The council will own the blocks of land and help offset our costs.
“With the new council coming in it is a great thing for them to run off.”
Cool Off presently sources mixed offals from 30 abattoirs across Australia.
It has capacity to process more than 150 tonnes of raw offal per day, in chilled and frozen form, for supply to Australian pet food manufacturers and growing export markets.