CHEESE BOOM: Senator Jonathon Duniam, Anne Bennett, Paul Bennett and Liberal candidate John Tucker. Picture: Brodie Weeding
Ashgrove Cheese’s Elizabeth Town location will become a tourist mecca with construction of a $1.19 million state-of-the-art dairy door and visitor complex.
As one of four Meander Valley organisations to receive funding under the federal government Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, Ashgrove has plans to capitalise on its Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail position.
Ashgrove Cheese received a $565,000 grant and will invest $620,000 to construct and fit out the complex.
Project manager Anne Bennett has been working on plans for the dairy door for years.
“It enables Ashgrove to really bring forward a flagship project that we’ve had on the cards for two years. It will develop the Ashgrove Cheese shop into an iconic Northern Tasmanian tourist destination,” Ms Bennett said.
The complex will almost double the existing shop and factory footprint with experiential, retail, food and outdoor areas that link Ashgrove’s dairy products direct to the farm.
“We are going to bring the farm alive inside the building using technology like virtual reality, augmented reality and cow tracking,” Ms Bennett said.
Ashgrove Cheese chairman Paul Bennett built the cheese shop with his father John Bennett 30 years ago and is eager to see how his labour has developed.
“The planning has already started. We’ve drawn up plans and will be underway as soon as council plans and government criteria is met,” Mr Bennett said.
The Ashgrove project will create 40 construction jobs and a further 14 full-time equivalent roles once complete.
These four projects received $1.84 million in federal funding which, with the organisations’ own contributions, translates to a $3.7 million investment.
More than 160 direct jobs, and many more indirect roles, result from the region’s investment package, Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam said.
“I am pleased to see this program backing people who are taking a risk by putting their ideas into practice, investing in their community and creating much-needed jobs in our regions. These projects all build on Tasmania’s strong reputation in offering fine produce and experiences,” Mr Duniam said.
Red Hills business Forager Foods received $75,675 funding to build a $151,350 specialist food powdering and packing facility.
Hemp Harvests will build an $811,000 hemp seed processing facility at Red Hills with $405,500 federal funding and Kentish Council was granted $800,000 to build the $1.6 million Wild Mersey Bike Trails project’s second stage.