Hepburn Shire could soon be home to a produce hub to showcase Central Highlands’ fresh, premium produce.
The hub, a priority project of the Central Highlands Regional Partnership, encompasses six municipalities, including Ararat Rural City, the City of Ballarat, Golden Plains Shire, Hepburn Shire, Moorabool Shire and Pyrenees Shire.
Chief executive officer of Hepburn Shire Council, Evan King, said it was hoped the hub could be built in the shire as it would bring many benefits agricultural and economic benefits for existing and future businesses.
“The prominence of Premium Produce Enterprises (PPE’s) in Central Highlands is higher than in other agricultural regions, due to an ideal mix of resources, namely a diverse economy, resilient and rich natural resources, an agricultural workforce with higher than average levels of education, established connectivity with Melbourne and Geelong and access to infrastructure and transport hubs,” he said.
“The vision for the hub is to provide knowledge, networks and practical opportunities to local premium produce enterprises that enable the many producers to grow and significantly increase their individual economic viability,” he said. “The ultimate aim being to increase the sector’s contribution to the region’s economic growth and create new jobs in the food and fibre sector.”
With produce ranging from bulk commodities to high value produce, the Central Highlands region has an established agricultural sector valued at almost $1 billion of agricultural production and $1.5 billion of food processing.
A business case has been prepared and is in the process of being finalised before it is presented to the state government to consider funding.