Strong response to Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund

The Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund, created to secure jobs and the long-term economic future of the Illawarra, has received 28 proposals that could result in $95 million of new investment in the region.

An advisory committee, chaired by a member of the local business community, Mr Robert Terpening from Bisalloy Steel Group Limited, has been appointed and will review the proposals. Successful proposals are expected to be announced in March.

The Commonwealth has committed $20 million towards the Illawarra Fund, with a further $5 million each from the New South Wales Government and BlueScope Steel.

Federal Minister for Industry and Innovation, Greg Combet, said the strong interest in the Illawarra Fund would create opportunities and help build sustainable businesses throughout the Illawarra.

“The Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund is strengthening the region by stimulating co-investment opportunities and diversifying its economic and employment base,” Mr Combet said.

“The interest in the Illawarra Fund is enormously promising. It shows that there are lots of firms ready and willing to invest in the region.

“Although the Illawarra Fund was created to respond to a challenge – the restructure of BlueScope Steel’s operations at Port Kembla – it has helped identify new, exciting opportunities for the region and its workers.”

NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Trade and Investment and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services, Andrew Stoner, said the NSW Government was committed to driving innovation and creating jobs in the Illawarra.

“We understand that a growing economy delivers jobs, opportunities and increased prosperity – that’s why the Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund is so important to the region.”

NSW Minister for Finance and Services and Minister for the Illawarra, Greg Pearce, said the Illawarra in its own right is a crucial part of the New South Wales economy.

“The fund will require each application to have matching funding from the applicant on at least a dollar for dollar basis,” Mr Pearce said.

“The NSW Government will continue to work with all levels of government and stakeholders to rebuild new job opportunities in the Illawarra.”

The Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said “The Illawarra Fund brings together the Commonwealth and NSW Governments, BlueScope and local businesses. All are working together in partnership to create long-term prosperity for the Illawarra.”

“Most importantly, the Illawarra Fund will create new, sustainable jobs for the region and help secure our economic future,” Stephen Jones, the Member for Throsby said.

The majority of applications have been received from the Wollongong area, but proposals have also come from Kiama and Shellharbour.

The applications will be jointly assessed by staff from AusIndustry and the New South Wales Government Trade and Investment before being considered by the independent advisory committee.

The advisory committee comprises a representative from the Commonwealth Government, the NSW Government, BlueScope Steel and will be chaired by Mr Terpening.