Casino the centre of regional investment
THE road outside Richmond Dairies was blocked this morning for a special guest and event that was a coup for Casino.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and delegates from 12 countries gathered at the dairies for the launch of the Regional NSW Investment Prospectus.
While the average man or woman on the street may go - humph, so what - it is hugely significant for the Northern Rivers.
"Never before has a trade delegation of this size and stature visited Casino," Mr Barilaro said.
The morning was about jobs, foreign investment, and more jobs.
After Mr Barilaro's tour of the high tech butter factory, the prospectus was launched and the website went live.
NSW was digitally throwing its doors open to foreign investment and the food industry was one of the main targets.
Ballina mayor David Wright, Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland, Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow and Lismore mayor Isaac Smith were there as well as industry captains from Northern Rivers Cooperative Meat Company, Brookfarm and Richmond Dairies .
Food was the focus and as Mr Barilaro said,
"We had the mining boom, now its the dining boom."
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the prospectus was fundamental to drive the economy in NSW.
"It is not by chance Casino was chosen to launch this, it has a progressive Council and is growing its community," he said.
The new website aimed to maximise opportunities to promote the food industry in NSW and the Northern Rivers to the rest of the world.
Mr Barilaro said he wanted to "turbo-charge" the region.
"How do we put the spotlight on NSW?" he said to the audience.
"We have a great story to tell here."
Richmond Dairies' Chris Sharp said the dairy site had been in Casino for more than 100 years. In the year 2000, when the company changed hands there were 15 employees.
Today 60 people are employed at Richmond Dairies.
"95 per cent of our product is exported," Mr Sharp said.
New technology gave them the edge, he said and yoghurt powder was being produced with advanced freezing technology.
NCMC's Simon Stahl said the meatworks export percentage had grown tenfold in the last five years in its exports to China.
Pam Brook from Brookfarm in Byron Bay said the Northern Rivers Food Group had 140 members doing paddock to plate.
"Put a stick in the ground and it grows," Ms Brook said.
"Food is the fastest growing industry in this region."
Before the deputy premier left Casino, he promised the state government would be doing everything it could to increase connectivity in the region to help industry boom.
This included investment in regional roads, trains, airports and the internet.
More information at www.investregional.nsw.gov.au