Warwick's John Dee to beef up
MORE than 100 new full-time jobs could be welcomed to the region in a mammoth multi-million dollar project planned for the Rose City.
Warwick abattoir John Dee is hoping to expand their storage facilities to help them cope with growing demand and offer more employment opportunities.
The expansion is the largest of four projects that Southern Downs Regional Council will seek funding for under the Federal Government Building Our Regions program, which councillors approved on Thursday.
John Dee general manager Warren Stiff said the total estimated cost of the project was more than $15million - the largest single investment the plant has ever undertaken.
"We now produce a range of brands in addition to our own and we need to be able to store and pick customers' product for a range of exports,” Mr Stiff said.
"It's made our inventory and stock control quite complicated.
"What we're hoping to do with the funding is to introduce state-of-the-art product and storage sorting technology in a new building within the current property boundaries that would be able to store the equivalent of about 2000 pallets of chilled and frozen product.
"This would also free up part of the plant, currently used for storage, to be used for more production and we would be able to increase weekly throughput by 1000 head.
"This will help us and our long-standing contractors take on more business in the long term.”
Mr Stiff said while the council would spearhead the funding application, John Dee had agreed to match any Federal Government contribution if the project was approved.
"The application needs to be led by the council, but we have had to demonstrate why the funding would be for the good of the greater region,” Mr Stiff said.
"We are already a large employer with 600 full-time employees, and this will go a long way to ensure the long-term sustainability of those jobs and add a further 130 full-time jobs.
"The application will be reviewed by the relevant committees and we should know whether or not we were successful by the end of the financial year.”
Mayor Tracy Dobie said the council supported John Dee in the bid for funding due to the project's potential to boost the region's economy and employment.
Cr Dobie said the council would not be required to put funding towards the project, as John Dee had agreed to match the Federal Government contribution.
"John Dee has been around for a long time and is the region's biggest employer and getting support through the Building Better Regions program is a key step to expanding further,” she said.
"The important thing about this funding is that we are getting the best value from it and this will absolutely be a leg up for the number of jobs in the region.”
Mr Stiff said the project followed the installation of a $7million plate freezer, and would have widespread benefits.
"If our own brands and our contractors' brands can grow, that can only be a good thing,” Mr Stiff said.
"Whether for employees here at the plant or anyone associated with the expansion, like feedlots, cattle producers, packing material suppliers and transport, many of which are here on the Downs.”