The Victorian Government is establishing an Economic Growth Zone in the Latrobe Valley. The zone will be funded by an additional $224 million package to help boost the local economy following the announcement of the closure of the Hazelwood power station.
The brown coal plant will be closing down at the end of March 2017 after the French owner ENGIE said that the 1,600-megawatt power stations were deemed no longer economically viable. About 250 workers will remain at the power station between 2017 and 2023 to manage the site’s rehabilitation, with hundreds more laid-off.
The funding for the new growth zone is part of a $266 million package that will help create local jobs and grow local businesses. Companies wanting to start or expand their businesses in the Latrobe Valley will be eligible for financial incentives, including the reimbursement of fees and charges, as part of the $50 million Economic Growth Zone.
For example, under the changes, a business purchasing a $500,000 property to move into the Latrobe Valley could receive up to a $25,000 reimbursement of their stamp duty.
The Economic Growth Zone will cover the three Local Government Areas of Latrobe City Council, Wellington Shire, and Baw Baw Shire. Eligibility for funding will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the newly established Latrobe Valley Authority.
Additionally, the Red Tape Commissioner will investigate ways to reduce red tape in the Valley and break down regulatory barriers to growth, with a dedicated team of trade and investment specialists embedded within the Authority to open up export opportunities and attract new businesses. Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas says,
The Economic Growth Zone will target new local projects which could include road and rail upgrades, school upgrades and health facilities.
This is about making business that much easier to establish and grow in the Latrobe Valley as well as building the community infrastructure that the Latrobe Valley needs. Our commitment is not only to the workforce and their transition but to the community in this difficult time. It is about generating jobs and economic opportunity.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the package was unprecedented, the largest regional development project any Victorian Government had ever invested in after “years of disadvantage.”