IN a bad year for manufacturing jobs in the central west, there was some good news on Tuesday.
The $65 million factory upgrade opened at the Nestle Purina factory in Blayney has added 117 permanent positions to the more than 200 people already on site.
It comes after the announcement late last year of job cuts at Simplot and Downer EDI in Bathurst, and Electrolux in Orange, that led to a Central West Jobs Summit being held in Orange in March.
Member for Calare John Cobb, who attended yesterday’s official opening in place of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, praised Nestle Purina for its forward-thinking.
“It’s fantastic for Blayney, but it’s more than just Blayney, it’s the whole region,” he said of the investment in the expansion.
“It’s not just investing in our region, but investing in yourselves.
“It’s just phenomenal to have investment in our region when manufacturing is under threat.”
Mr Cobb said other central west companies had fallen by the wayside in Bathurst, Blayney, Lithgow and Orange, and innovation in manufacturing was vital to secure the future of any business.
He complimented Nestle for investing in its own future, rather than expecting state or federal governments to provide funding.
“R and D [research and development] in a company and what they’re [Nestle Purina] doing is essential to keep ahead of the game,” he said.
“You have to invest in yourself not while everything’s not looking good, but when things are looking good.”
Mr Cobb said Nestle Purina, along with Mars and Devro, were examples of international companies working to ensure their future across the central west.
The two-year upgrade at Blayney was completed six months ahead of schedule and was part of $100 million in investments since 2011.
The latest investment included the construction of a 5400 square metre warehouse, the installation of world-class production equipment and an upgrade to the company’s research and development facility.
The new facility will produce ‘wet’ pet food that will be sold in pouches in Australia and worldwide.
Thanks to the upgrades, Nestle expects to boost production by more than 100,000 tonnes.
Nestle Purina PetCare vice president of operations Suleman Khan said the upgrade in technology and production would help ensure future success.
“It’s important that manufacturing facilities remain competitive to ensure future investment within the region,” he said.
Company president Rafael Lopez said 63 per cent of people across Australia have a pet, and the plant was an investment in their nutrition and health.
“This technology has the capability and flexibility to create demand for a premium product,” he said.