REVEALED: How John Dee expansions will deliver 143 new jobs
THE company crowned Warwick's biggest employer will boost production by 40 per cent, put 143 people in new full-time jobs and carry the regional economy forward in a moved dubbed "an Australian agricultural success story".
Construction has officially begun on a $10million storage facility expansion that will see the John Dee meat processing factory in Warwick send more high-quality Australian protein to countries around the world.
Taking hold of a shovel alongside other stakeholders yesterday, Member for Maranoa David Littleproud commended the Hart family for backing the region.
"This is an Australian agricultural success story. It's a family that has backed themselves and taken the risk," Mr Littleproud said.
"The government can give money but unless you have people to take the risk to put their own business out there you don't have anything."
The foundations have already been laid and now construction on the five-storey storage facility has begun, it's expected to be up and running in 13 months.
It will create 143 new full-time jobs and 138 indirect new full-time jobs.
"It will also protect the 630 existing jobs," Mr Littleproud said.
"Export opportunities from this development will come to about $111 million."
Fitted out with a state-of-the-art automated storage and retrieval technology, the new building will free up space in the existing factory and relieve a bottleneck effect that is standing in the way of increased production.
John Dee CEO Warren Stiff said the expansion would allow the Warwick-based business to move in excess of 160,000 grain-fed carcasses per year.
For Hart descendants who still run the facility, the expansions build on a dream that family patriarch Frank Hart had in 1939 when he eyed off the block of land on the banks of the Condamine River.
"His vision was probably establishing a viable business, employment and family interaction," company director John Hart said. "Just the ambition of having a successful business is what drove him."
But quite a bit has changed in the 70 years since Frank's abattoir began.
Mr Stiff said the grounds on which the new storage facility would be build used to be the holding paddock for grass-fed beef cattle that averaged about 250kg per beast.
"We have now evolved to a carcass that is twice that weight and that is why we have evolved to this site," he said.
"It is very exciting. It has been two years in the making to get to this point through application,design and approvals."
Mr Littleproud said it was great news for the town after a "devastating" announcement that the Big W Distribution Centre would be closing its operation in the future.
"John Dee's expansion project - and the jobs set to be created - will go some way to help secure employment opportunities for those families uncertain about their future in our region," he said.
Mr Littleproud said securing $4.8 million for this facility was one of the hardest fights he's mounted in his time as the member for Maranoa.