THE owner of the Molong gelato factory blames Cabonne Council for forcing him to close the factory which council is now trying to sell.
Giovanni “John” Di Francesca said negotiations to purchase the council owned property where he set up his gelato factory, broke down because council refused to accept a reasonable offer.
He said as part of his lease, he could purchase the area for $285,000 but offered $300,000.
Mr Di Francesca said his business was growing rapidly and needed to purchase the block in order to expand.
He claims he was told council would not sell for less than $700,000, an amount he thought was completely unrealistic.
“The council was very unsupportive to the point of collapse,” he said.
“Nothing in Molong is worth $700,000.”
Cabonne council spokesperson Dale Jones confirmed there had been at least three serious expressions of interest for the site but could not comment further until expressions closed on October 30
Cabonne Council bought the land on Manildra Road in Molong in 2007 and custom built the factory to entice the gelato making company to invest in the town of 2000 people.
Council owned the two blocks of land, the factory and the residence on the land, which Mr Di Francesca rented from council.
Mr Di Francesca’s business Gelato Ingredients Manufactures of Australia which originally operated out of Newtown, also received a grant of $163,000 from the federal government as part of the food processing in regional Australia program.
Mr Di Francesca rejected claims he took advantage of the grant.
As part of the grant conditions the factory was required to remain in Molong for three years, it stayed from 2008 to August 2013.
The decision by Mr Di Francesca to shut up shop was made public about eight months after he announced the business would be expanding to Bulli Tops north of Wollongong.
At the time he said that the factory at Molong would remain his main operation.
“I put in millions of dollars into it,” he said.”
“Cabonne council, they had every opportunity to keep the factory there.”
Cabonne Council mayor Ian Gosper said the arrangement and subsequent falling out council had with Mr Di Francesca had cost ratepayers a significant amount of money but he was certain the venture could make a profit.
“You can’t keep businesses here if they don’t want to stay here,” he said.
“We’re open to anything, anybody that has an interest.”