$1 m grant could help Caravan company hire ex-auto workers

New Age Caravans has been successful in its bid for a grant under the Melbourne North Innovation and Investment Fund.

According
to a joint federal and state announcement last Friday, over 65 jobs will be
created with the assistance of the $1 million grant, the first such grant under
the MNIIF.

The
fund is a tripartite federal, Victorian and Ford Australia program, and the
grant to New Age Caravans is “the first of many projects” to receive funding
under it.

The co-investment will help New Age create an an advanced robotics centre, budgeted at $3.7 million, under its expansion plan.

“This project is a great
example of an innovative company in a growing market that is driving real
improvements in productivity for the business,” said federal industry minister
Ian Macfarlane, adding that the expansion would benefit former automotive
workers, who would only require minimal re-training to work at the caravan
company.

“Melbourne’s north is a hub of
engineering, aerospace and defence, electronics and print packaging industries,
which are thriving in a global market,” said David Hodgett, Victoria’s
manufacturing minister, of the region’s strengths.

Like the Geelong Region Innovation
and Investment Fund, which recently awarded a $5 million grant to Carbon Revolution in Geelong, the MNIIF is merit-based and competitive, a tripartite
Ford/Commonwealth/state initiative, and set up in response to Ford’s
announcement that it would cease manufacturing in Australia in 2016. Both grants programs are funded to $24.5 million.

Round
one applications closed on September 26 last year. The fund defines Melbourne North as the Local Government Areas of Hume, Whittlesea, Moreland and Darebin.