More than 200 jobs will be created in the heart of the city as part of a $4.2 million state government pledge to build an Innovation Lab and Digital Space in the Central Business District.
The announcement at Wednesday’s Victorian budget was one of the big ticket items to be unveiled for Ballarat and is part of a $325 million state-wide investment into infrastructure and services.
It is anticipated the new business hub will drawn in an economic boost to the city of more than $163 million. Little is known about the location of the new hub, with the site not listed in the budget papers.
Victorian Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford also remained tight-lipped on the location of the site of the new digital centre.
She told The Courier three pockets of land had been earmarked as potential locations for the construction of the new centre but she declined to be drawn into speculation it could be constructed at the site of the derelict Civic Hall.
“We can’t say where just yet, but it will be somewhere in the city and in the CBD,” she said. “Now that the funding is confirmed we’ll get moving on finding a good spot for it.”
Ms Pulford said it was one of the biggest investments into employment growth in the CBD in recent years.
“It’s building on the existing strengths in Ballarat around ICT where about 1000 businesses currently employ 2000 people,” Ms Pulford said.
Ballarat MP Josh Morris said while any investment into job growth in the region was welcomed, the jobs created by the new hub fell short of what was needed.
“Considering Labor’s Back to Work Scheme has failed this is the least the government could do,” he said.
He said the city continued to have rising rates of unemployment, especially in youth. The government has also committed to lifting the payroll tax threshold from $550,000 to $650,000 over the next four years, in a move it said would benefit 36,000 businesses. Business groups had been pushing for payroll tax relief, and Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the announcement showed the government had been listening. Federation University will also be home of a new state-of-the-art multi-million dollar “tech school” set to open in 2017.
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