The Central Coast Food Manufacturing Innovation hub project has been impacted by the changing economic environment through the course of this year, but it is now back on track thanks to Central Coast Council providing land for the facility.
Recapping, the Federal Labour Government made an election commitment to provide $17.14M to establish a food manufacturing Innovation hub in the region. Once elected this commitment was cemented in the October 2022 budget and in February 2023, we submitted an application for the funds.
At the time of the commitment and the application submission, the project was focused on procuring a building in an approved development in Lisarow( yet to be built) , fitting it out to house a number of scale up food businesses, procure and install pilot facilities in line with the regions needs, and to establish a skills hub that would support the food industry in its skills and staff needs across the spectrum of food and beverage businesses.
In May this year the proposed development in Lisarow was to be delayed and given the time constraints attached to the funding it meant CCIC had to look at other alternate sites. After three options were identified the board of CCIC agreed to continue discussions with Central Coast Council who were approached to see if they had suitable community lands available for the hub project. This was supported by the federal government.
Two neighbouring properties were identified by council staff in Brownlee st Ourimbah, that were suitable for our needs and that had the correct zoning. Consequent discussions and negotiation with council regarding access to the land for the project, finally led to a proposal for CCIC to have a long term lease on the land at a nominal rate and this was presented in a report to the council meeting on the 27th June. The motion to provide the site to CCIC was passed by the administrator.
This change in circumstance triggered a need to reapply for the allocated funding which has now been done and council approval has allowed the processing of the application to continue. Although not approved yet, the business case provided in the application provides a strong case to move it forward.
Central Coast Council are now a key partner in the project together with the University of Newcastle and Regional Development Australia Central Coast. Our major food companies have all come on board as supporters as are members of the Central Coast Food Alliance.
The Central Coast Council decision was based on the following:
- 5 of the 9 Council’s adopted Economic Development Strategy deliverables are covered by the hub’s establishment and operation.
- 200 direct jobs and potentially 400 indirect jobs will be generated over time as a result of the hub plus the jobs associated with the construction of the hub.
- Providing the land helps securing the $17.14 of Federal funding.
- The hub will help establish the Central Coast as a significant food player in the sector.
The hub project aims to be established by its planned opening in the first quarter of 2026 calendar year and will be staged in the following way:
- The first stage is to establish a skills centre and associated programs- to commence development 2023.
- The second stage is to construct and fit out the building and install a range of pilot facilities. To commence construction 2024.
- The third stage is to activate the pilot facilities for product development and contract manufacturing and extend its use to the skills centre. To be available for use on the opening of the hub in 2026.
- The hub will house initially 6 scale up businesses.
The Board of CCIC thank Central Coast Council for making the land available for this significant project for the region.