THE growth of Ballarat West has been a key focus in the state government’s budget, with a $30.2 million investment to kickstart the city’s employment zone.
The funding is in addition to previously announced infrastructure promises for the western part of the Ballarat, including $8.4 million in funding for a new emergency services hub, and Monday's announcement of $7.8 million to modernise Ballarat High School to help handle the expected population boom in the area.
The City of Ballarat will contribute $5 million of the investment, with funding being used to prepare the area for the expected influx of businesses to move to the zone.
Premier Denis Napthine said the zone would provide one of Victoria’s best opportunities for investment by both national and international businesses.
“The Ballarat West Employment Zone is an essential part of the Napthine Government’s strategic vision for growth and prosperity of Ballarat, providing jobs for the region’s growing population,” he said.
Stage one of the employment zone will include a subdivision of lots, construction of internal roads, installation of services and marketing and sale costs of the land.
The funding is expected to be used over the next four years, with $12 million to be used within the next 12 months.
Major Projects Minister David Hodgett said the zone would be a “landmark” for regional Victoria and was a key to driving innovation throughout all of Western Victoria.
“Situated nearby the Ballarat West regional growth area, the Ballarat Airport, rail infrastructure and the Ballarat West Link Road, the Ballarat West Employment Zone is an ideal site that will improve transport connections, generate investment and further enhance Ballarat as a thriving regional centre,” he said.
The surprise announcement for the employment zone funding from Treasurer Michael O’Brien is on top of $38 million already budgeted for the construction of the Ballarat Western Link Road.
Infrastructure has been made a priority across the state, with Mr O’Brien announcing an operating surplus of $1.3 billion and a cut to the payroll tax to 4.85 per cent.
Funding to begin construction on big ticket items such as the Melbourne Rail Link and the second stage East-West link were also included in the budget.