$3.8m investment boosts Harwood marine precinct prospects
CHRISTMAS has come early for the Harwood marine precinct with the grant of $3.8million to enable construction of 3.9km of sealed access road to help pave the way for new opportunities in the marine manufacturing industry.
The multi-million dollar investment will allow greater access to the 22.8ha site at Harwood owned by Harwood Marine and has the capacity to create up to 300 skilled jobs which could make the Clarence Valley a hub of marine manufacturing and repair.
Harwood Marine managing director Ross Roberts said the investment would help provide job security for his 60 employees, as well as opportunities for other industries.
"Certainly there's many other industries that can come here to provide services that we don't provide so it really is an incubator for the marine industry and on the east coast of Australia, certainly in NSW there's nothing like this shipyard," Mr Roberts said.
"The current road is suffering erosion and in time it would end up having a load limit, whereas now (with the upgrade it gives continuity of access so it's an infrastructure spend for the whole community.
"It's really an infrastructure thing, we've been here 50 years and we just want access to our shipyard. It's great that council was successful with this grant and we're going to contribute to it. It really is what government should be doing, they've identified a need that fits the community, fits industry and fits the economic future and creates jobs."
Rivergate Marina and Shipyard, one of Australia's leading superyacht refit and maintenance facilities, has taken an interest in the Harwood marine precinct and its director of international business Steve Fisher said there was huge potential in Harwood to take part in the industry following this investment.
"I think there's a wonderful future here in superyacht repair and maintenance as we're seeing more superyachts coming from the northern hemisphere to Australia for repairs and to be redone," Mr Fisher said.
"While it's cheaper to get work done in Asian yards, the attention to detail and quality isn't as good as what it is in Australia, so we're seeing a massive increase in the number of boats coming here to be maintained.
"Harwood is one of the few places on the eastern seaboard with the capacity to potentially work on some of the larger boats so there's an opportunity for Harwood to take advantage of that and it's something that we'd be looking to invest in."
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said the grant from the Growing Local Economies Fund,was part of a successful application from Clarence Valley Council and consistent with the Valley's Regional Economic Development Strategy.
"The Clarence River is a unique regional asset and this investment will help to ensure we attract a greater share of the marine manufacturing industry right here in the Clarence," Mr Gulaptis said.
"It will safeguard the 60 employees at Harwood Marine who need a reliable access road and will also improve access for the local sugar industry providing efficiency savings to farmers and the sugar mill as well as improving the road network in the Harwood area which will benefit local residents on a day-to-day basis."
Welcoming the announcement, Clarence Valley Mayor, Jim Simmons said the marine industry was one of the business success stories of the Clarence and it was great to see it get backing from the NSW Government.
"I can see this industry going from strength to strength, and providing the supporting infrastructure to help that growth is essential," he said.
"Of course it won't just be the marine industry that benefits from road improvements. The whole community gets to share the benefits of that."