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Construction is under way at the latest business to arrive at the Ballarat West Employment Zone, though questions remain about larger infrastructure.
Luv-a-Duck, a Nhill-based food manufacturer, is expecting to open its $20 million value-add facility by November, and employ about 35 people.
Chief executive James Thompson joined other representatives from the family-owned business, construction firm Vaughan, and the City of Ballarat to turn a sod on Friday.
"Our farming and plant operations are based in Nhill and our value-add facility is currently up in Nhill but with the growth of the business, it's necessary for us to actually expand our operations," he said.
"Because of the educational facilities here, for training and development for staff, and the infrastructure here for the other food manufacturing precincts here in the city, they provide us with great avenues for further engagement.
"The major structure in itself, the plan has to be developed with best-in-class food safety standards, and also the plant and equipment that actually goes within the precinct, the automation located within that plant, will be some of the world's best."
He added there will be a mix of transferred staff from Nhill and new hires from Ballarat at the new facility, and there is scope to expand the facility on the site.
City of Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor said the facility was a promising addition to BWEZ.
"It's about jobs for the city, and that's the idea, to have thousands of jobs here in this employment zone," he said.
Plans for the new Luv-a-Duck facility in Ballarat
With the release of the state government's Recycling Victoria circular economy policy, he added council would renew its focus on building a waste-to-energy plant at BWEZ.
"We did sign a memorandum of understanding (about a facility), and that's been put on hold waiting for the circular economy policy," he said.
"Now we can reassess that, go back to them, and see what we can do.
"The big question is on the feedstock coming in - we have 60,000 tonnes (of municipal solid waste per year), we needed about 400,000 tonnes (per year for the previous agreement).
"We need to work with providers and see what they can come up, and maybe opportunities in the future to look at other technologies or partners to deliver (a plant).
"We're not going to take our time, we really led the way across the state on this.
"We want to get our transfer station, or recycling facility, happening ASAP - we've got money on the table as well, we've just got to get this land available through Development Victoria."
The Ballarat West Employment Zone is a joint state government and City of Ballarat project - a 438 hectare precinct to encourage new industries and create jobs.
There are five businesses currently operating, with another five on the way.
Expressions of interest are now open for the development of an intermodal freight hub connecting to the rail line.
The City of Ballarat has previously committed to building an all-waste interchange, to sort the region's recyclables and waste, and a waste-to-energy plant using waste diverted from landfill to provide a secure power source to the precinct.
This article first appeared on www.mailtimes.com.au
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