NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, has announced $11.7 million in funding to to kick-start the development of Astra Aerolab precinct in Newcastle, expected to create up to 5,500 jobs in the region.
Located adjacent to the Newcastle airport and the RAAF Base Williamtown, the precinct aims to create a space where aerospace, education and advanced manufacturing can co-locate and collaborate.
Barilaro said the Astra Aerolab will house maintenance and support services for Australian fighter jets and drive $246 million into the NSW economy.
“This investment will capitalise on the existing economic strengths of the region, securing 76 hectares of special land committed to defence and aviation-related industry and employment.
“Over its lifetime, this new precinct will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs including roles for aviation IT and avionic specialists, mechanics and engineers, in the Hunter,” Barilaro said.
Australia’s combat aircraft, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Hawk 127 require significant long-term maintenance and upkeep and the new precinct will create an opening for businesses to address that demand.
NSW Minister for Trade and Industry, Niall Blair, said the news couldn’t come at a better time with the NSW Government’s recent commitment of $400,000 for the STEMship Program, which will equip Hunter students with the technical skills they need to work in the defence and aviation industries.
“The precinct will deliver employment opportunities across a range of professions, creating jobs in industries with an important future,” Blair said.
“With this project we are actively creating attractive, engaging career pathways for people living in the regions, supporting local economies and backing our local defence industry,” he said.
The funding for the project has been sourced from the NSW government’s Growing Local Economies Fund, which is part of the state government’s $1.6 billion Regional Growth Fund – delivering essential infrastructure to spur job creation, improve connectivity and support community engagement and culture.
Newcastle Airport will use the NSW government funding to pay for water, sewer, gas, electrical and broadband connections, as well as construction of a major access road. Newcastle Airport will co-contribute $7.86 million to the $19.66 million project to activate the lead in road and initial site preparation.