ARARAT-BASED manufacturer AF Gason has announced it will invest $6 million to expand its facility, with a $500,000 grant from the state government toward the project also announced.
The expansion, which is set to be complete by the end of 2020, will include the construction of a building to house a new laser cutting machine, as well as a shelf storage system with about 530 shelves capable of holding three tonnes of material each.
It will also create 15 local jobs and five jobs at the organisation’s Melbourne-based assembly facility.
Industry and Employment Minister Ben Carroll announced the funding at the Ararat facility on Thursday during a tour of the factory floor and described AF Gason as a leader in an evolving manufacturing industry.
“We’re very pleased that as part of this $6 million upgrade, which will be the cornerstone of advanced manufacturing, you will also see 20 additional full-time staff,” he said.
“This project here is going to be a leader for regional Victoria and we’re very keen to support regional manufacturing because the sector is a cornerstone of the Victorian economy.”
The expansion will pave the way for increased productivity, AF Gason chief executive Wayne Gason said.
“This machine, being a laser cutting system, it’s really the start of all the processes so this machine will help us to be able to increase our capacity, which will allow us to go out and bring more products into the facility,” he said.
“It’s fantastic for Ben to come up here and make this announcement. We see the future of manufacturing in Ararat as very strong ... so this type of investment in the equipment that we’re looking at putting in will be very beneficial.”
Ararat Rural City mayor Gwenda Allgood also congratulated AF Gason.
“I just think that it’s really important – 15 new jobs in Ararat is pretty impressive,” she said.
“That’s one thing that Gasons has been really solid on, always looking at getting other people employed here.”
The grant comes from the Victorian Government’s Future Industries Manufacturing Program.