AFTER 18 months of fruitless lobbying to governments and councils, Warrnambool-based Fresh Bins will head overseas to establish a manufacturing base.
The cleaning technology company established by entrepreneur Paul Sewell aims to have new trucks with robotic cleaning equipment rolling off the assembly line within the next six to 12 months.
Mr Sewell told The Standard he had been negotiating with a Texan council and large subcontractor since last year.
“It’s a huge investment for us, but America is a huge market, with great potential to expand also into Canada,” he said.
“However, my preference has always been to have a manufacturing base in Victoria.We tried so hard to get support from state and federal governments and Warrnambool City Council, but we were stonewalled.
“That’s very disappointing because now we’ve been forced to go overseas and Australia will miss out on job opportunities with huge flow-on benefits.
“I just can’t understand the logic of our governments in failing to support us — it’s heartbreaking.
“We could have created a $6 million manufacturing facility and created about 650 jobs.”
Under the Texas deal Fresh Bins will be paid royalty fees for each truck produced and each bin cleaned. Mr Sewell said demand for his company’s services had grown by more than 40 per cent in the past six months.
Economic predictions presented during negotiations with councils and governments estimated if a factory was established in Ballarat it could employ up to 435 workers with an annual wages value of $34m and an output of $274m, with a third of that in stainless steel production in Warrnambool.
It was also calculated that another 618 jobs could be created in operating the equipment across Victoria.
Fresh Bins has contracts for cleaning bins in Warrnambool at the foreshore, commercial and private properties, plus contracts in Northern Grampians and Moyne shires, Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Melbourne and Dandenong.
Mr Sewell said the ozone cleaning technology was being trialled in meat processing and dairy production plants and negotiations were also in progress with interested parties in Singapore and Dubai.
Victoria’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Ryan Smith’s office confirmed talks had taken place with Fresh Bins, but a decision to establish a factory rested with the company.