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Marble benchtops, plastic hoses gain from Ford fund

Polished result: Campbellfield kitchen benchtop maker Kitchen Innovations will create an extra 20 jobs with the help of state government and Ford Australia money.

Funds for displaced Ford workers tipped into diverse manufacturing opportunities

Ford logo17 Jun 2014

By BARRY PARK

A CABINET maker expanding into marble benchtops and a plastic company making hoses are the latest to receive funding from both the Victorian government and Ford Australia to bolster job opportunities.

The State Government this week announced the latest round of funding from a $24.5 million innovation and investment fund set up with Ford Australia to help businesses in northern Melbourne soak up some of the car-maker’s 1100-strong workforce that will be without a job in late 2016 when Ford shuts its Australian manufacturing operation.

Kitchen Innovations, based in Campbellfield close to the Ford production line, has received a $600,000 grant to support a $1.2 million redevelopment that will allow it to chase the trend away from laminex to produce marble benchtops, and create 20 extra jobs.

Premier Extrusion, meanwhile, has gained a $321,000 grant to help it produce new products for different markets as part of a $722,000 expansion of its Campbellfield plastic extrusion, hose and tube business.

The grant to Kitchen Innovations would help it buy and install equipment including a bridge saw, straight-line polisher, water treatment plant and materials handling equipment, the state government said.

Earlier this month, food manufacturer Baxters Foods Australia received a $1.3 million grant from the Melbourne North Innovation and Investment Fund (MNIIF) to expand its Campbellfield-based operations and create an extra 65 jobs in the region, while nearby carbonated soft-drink-maker Sparkling Beverages was handed $933,423 to help it add 27 jobs as part of a $2.33 million upgrade that would boost capacity from 10 million bottles a year to 100 million.

To date, the MNIIF has handed out 10 grants worth $12.1 million, resulting in a private sector investment worth $44.6 million.

A similar fund established for the Geelong region, called the Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund (GRIIF), received a $5 million boost from Alcoa last week as part of its announcement that it would close the Point Henry aluminium smelter and two rolling mills by the end of this year, boosting it to $29.5 million while adding another 1000 workers to the job-loss headcount.

According to the state government, five projects have received approval for GRIIF funding totalling $8.4 million, with more than $48 million in private-sector investment creating 290 jobs across the Geelong region.

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