The Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) team finally came to Orange on Friday – but being homeless meant they had to conduct their first media conference in Cook Park.
RIC chairman of the board David Foster said they had spent the morning checking out potential sites in the CBD for their first offices.
The RIC, nicknamed Barnaby’s Bank after then Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, who launched the body in Robertson Park a year ago, will oversee the administration of concessional loans totalling $4 billion to farmers.
Mr Foster he expected a site would be finalised in the “next week or two.”
He said they had begun advertising for a permanent CEO and up to 30 staff.
“That will take a couple of months,” he said.
“It’s been a busy couple of months since the board was established.
“The key for us is to provide concessional loans for farmers that they couldn’t access from commercial means.”
Mr Foster was accompanied by board member Mark Lewis and acting CEO Matt Ryan.
Member for Calare Andrew Gee said locals could apply to work with the RIC.
“Everyone in our region will get a shot at these jobs,” he said.
He defended the government’s decision to establish the RIC in Orange after the Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon labelled it a waste of money.
Earlier this week Mr Fitzgibbon said funds to establish the body would be better spent on drought assistance for farmers.
A poll of Central Western Daily readers this week agreed with him - 73 per cent said the money should go to farmers.
However Mr Gee said Mr Fitzgibbon was not interested in providing jobs in regional areas.
Mr Fitzgibbon also criticised the RIC for not opening on time but Mr Gee said the delays were caused by the bill to create the body having a slow passage through federal parliament after being blocked by the opposition and some senators.
“We’re on track for a start on the first of July,” he said.
“It is a great example of decentralisation.
“If you are going have an organisation like this you need it out where the farmers are.”
He said it would provided work in the country where people treasured their jobs.
“If you lose your job in the country it can be very difficult to get another one,” Mr Gee said.