Andrew Stoner.
Andrew Stoner.

Extra jobs on the way

A MULTI-million-dollar television production and a new line of locally made building supplies will open up at least 79 jobs in the Northern Rivers community, NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner revealed yesterday.

In a refreshing change for the region's economy, Mr Stoner also confirmed several government offices would be relocated to the Northern Rivers in the "very near" future.

While he would not be drawn on how many positions would become available and where they would be based, Mr Stoner said there was "good news to come".

Confirmation of the public sector reshuffle came after Mr Stoner exclusively announced a Lismore-based production company and Grafton business were the first successful applicants to receive major funding boosts under the State Government's recently launched Northern Rivers Jobs Plan.

The Gods of Wheat Street, a six- part television drama series filmed in Grafton, Lismore, Casino and Coraki, will inject at least $2.8 million into the local economy and provide jobs for 77 full-time staff over six months.

Local budding actors will also have the chance to audition for smaller parts and extra roles.

Penned by local indigenous writer Jon Bell, the script tells the story of a modern Aboriginal Casino family who, among other things, share their home with a ghost.

Producer Lois Randall said the series, which will air on ABC 1, had a healthy mix of "great heart, deadly comedy and a little bit of magic".

She said she was "thrilled" the State Government had pledged its support to the project.

She said she believed it would provide welcome opportunities for the "established cluster of talented screen industry personnel who live in the region, but struggle to find work locally".

In Grafton, Walsh Architectural Salvage recently ordered state-of-the-art machinery to produce a new line of quality structural timbers and flooring.

The funding will enable the company to hire at least two new staff to help develop their venture.

The Northern Rivers Job Plan gained little traction when it was announced in the wake of the Grafton Jail restructure, and while he accepted the jail announcement was "the straw that broke the camel's back", Mr Stoner was hopeful the coming changes would help to restore local confidence in the NSW Government.

"This is great news for the companies and for the local economy," Mr Stoner said.

"NSW Trade and Investment is currently assessing other local job expansion projects and I look forward to announcing further grants to support job creating projects in the Northern Rivers in due course."

Mr Stoner will travel to Grafton today to meet with Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.

The proposal to move government offices to the Northern Rivers was expected to be taken to cabinet as early as last night.


Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner will visit Grafton today at 11.15am

Find out what he says online today or in tomorrow's print edition.

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