Norco dairy co-operative will shed 240 jobs from its Lismore ice cream factory from mid July unless governments can stump up significantly more flood recovery money.
An additional $15 million announced by the NSW government this week will support an existing $44.3m promised by the federal government to help rebuild major regional employment in Lismore and the Richmond Valley, post flood but hard hit industries say the honey pot is far from sufficient given the incredible scale of impact.
Applications to the fund, designed to help large businesses which employ more than 200 people, close July 26 and come on top of existing support of $50,000 for small and $200,000 for medium-sized businesses trying to come back from inundation.
In announcing the new money minister for emergency management, Senator Murray Watt said "we want to help local industry get back to business as soon as possible but also to help future-proof them, by improving resilience to future natural disasters."
Dairy co-operative Norco is weighing-up whether to rebuild its damaged ice cream plant, with 240 workers given notice that they will be stood down from mid July unless significant increases to recovery money are forthcoming. Mr Hampson said $60m to $70m will be required to rebuild the Lismore ice cream factory, which produced 55m litres of product before the February flood.
"Lismore is the spiritual home of Norco. We are not about to abandon our presence here in the city's time of need," said Mr Hampson during a press conference on Wednesday, citing the suitability of the existing factory to already handle previous record floods.
"We are extremely grateful for the support received to date which has kept our workforce of 240 people gainfully employed for 16 weeks since the floods and enabled us to contribute significantly to the cleanup and rebuild of the community.
"However, that funding is due to end on July 15 and in the absence of any further details from the federal government, and confirmation that the state government won't be contributing to any support package, we've been forced to make some very difficult business decisions."
Mr Hampson said closing the plant would be "a very sad day for Norco and its staff", many of whom enjoyed long tenure with the business, as well as the entire Lismore community.
With some modifications and installation of flood doors to isolate key electrical equipment the facility will be able to withstand new record inundation levels.
This week the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative announced damages to its three processing plants totalling $45 million, with the Broadwater site worst affected and will remain closed until after August.
Sunshine Sugar CEO, Mr Chris Connors said; "The Anchor government grant package is incredibly important in the short term, but it just isn't enough."
"We have been consulting with both State and Federal Governments looking to increase the Anchor grant from $50m up to $100m and increase the timeline on expenditure so longer-term projects can receive assistance.
"The fear is that a lack of support for local producers, processors, and manufacturers, ultimately means a lack of support for the entire Northern Rivers communities.
"Furthermore, many businesses, whether large, medium or small, now face the prospect of no longer having any flood insurance cover, making the cost of rebuilding and mitigating future impacts fraught with significant risk."
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