Government support grows jobs in fruitful business venture

A North Burnett horticulture producer is set to build a new pre-packaging and quick chill facility with funding from the Palaszczuk Government.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Gayndah-based Dermark Pty Ltd is one of 15 businesses in Queensland to receive a Rural Economic Development (RED) grant to fund the expansion and development of their current business.

“Dermark is one of Queensland’s leading citrus producer’s supplying local supermarkets Woolworths, Coles and Aldi and also exporting overseas to China, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and the UAE,” Mr Furner said.

“This “$250,000 grant will go towards establishing an on-farm pre-packing and quick-chill facility in Gayndah which is well known for its citrus production.

“The project is expected to create 35 jobs through the construction phase with another 22 direct and indirect jobs created upon completion business operations.”

Owner Sandy McLay said having a local pre-packing plant would save producers time and money on getting their produce from the farm to supermarket shelves.

“The Wide Bay and Burnett region doesn’t currently have a pre-packing, automated sorting or quick chilling facility. Producers are trucking their produce to a competitor in Brisbane which is over four hours away,” Mr McLay said.

“With Government partnering developments like this it will help cement our regional communities and allow further expansion of our industries along with reducing our carbon footprint and producing opportunities for our children.

“The installation of the ‘FreshConnect’ facility will add a new dimension to the region creating a sense of independence amongst local growers and helping to reduce their distribution costs.

“FreshConnect will save producers an immense amount as we don’t need to pay for a third party to pre-pack our produce before it reaches the market.

“We will be able to grow, pick, sort, pack and chill all our produce independently and within 12 hours allowing our product to be as fresh as it can be when it hits supermarket shelves.”

The Rural Economic Development Grants program offers emerging projects up to $250,000 in co-contributions to build industry and grow employment opportunities across the agricultural sector. The $10 million grants program provides for three funding rounds over a three-year period ending 2021.

A total of 15 businesses have received $3.3 million under the first-round of funding for the RED Grants program. Overall these 15 projects are expected to create over 600 jobs across the agricultural sector in regional Queensland.

Funding for Round 2 of the RED Grants will be announced later this year.

The recent State Budget locked in funding for the remaining rounds of the program, taking the total amount of grants available up to $10 million.

“This program represents the Palaszczuk Government investing in regional jobs now and for the future,” Mr Furner said.

“By supporting regional businesses today we are helping them expand and growing our economy for the future.”

The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administer the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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