Fish co-op sets out $1.5m plan move
By TOBY WALKER
THE CLARENCE RIVER Fishermen's Co-operative is on the move with plans to develop a new fish processing factory announced on Friday.
The Co-op was already preparing this week to move some of its employees from their tired Maclean headquarters to a new facility in Iluka.
But those employees won't have time to get too attached to their new digs, with Co-op chair George Baker saying he was hopeful construction of a new facility in the Maclean area could begin within 12 months.
The factory would create a number of new jobs for the Clarence Valley and add a new dimension to the Co-op's business structure.
Mr Baker was at pains to point out that planning for the new development was still in the preliminary stages.
He did not want to specify the location of the proposed site, but said the Clarence Valley Council was aware of the Co-op's interest in developing it for future use.
And Mr Baker was just as reticent about the cost of the development.
He said it was too early to offer an estimate, but said a ballpark figure would probably see it come with a $1.5 million price tag.
The Co-op claimed increased government regulation and imports and the persistence of a crippling drought had forced it to make the decision for the sake of maintaining a competitive advantage in a volatile industry.
The Co-op has already engaged a third party consultant to investigate the viability of the proposal and its associated economic and environmental impacts before submitting a development application to council.
Mr Baker said Friday's meeting went well and he believed the Co-op's employees and shareholders viewed the plans for the future positively.
"There was over 100 shareholders and employees there and I was quite happy with it," he said.
"Sure we've been in drought and the members, I think, understand that we have to move to a new facility because the old one, I suppose I could say, has got past its use-by date.
"So whilst the members are a little bit apprehensive because of the downturn I think most of them realise that if we are able to move forward we have to add value to the business.
"I think it's good news for the Co-op but it's also good news for the local area because we envisage employing considerably more people on production lines."