The construction of a 72 ha medicinal cannabis facility at Lemnos will create 400 jobs, with locals being prioritised to fill the positions.
Cannatrek is the company behind the hydroponic project and its chief executive officer Tommy Huppert said the company was working with university campuses around the region to ensure people with the right skills get employed.
“To build a facility of this scale (there) is certainly construction (jobs) in its initial phases and research and agronomic positions,” he said.
“We will also have post harvest logistics so it's really quite a range of jobs we will be looking for in the development of the project.
“Of course locals would be a preferred starting point and we believe the Shepparton region has the base of skill sets required to deploy the project.
“We are already in discussions with the La Trobe University, which has a campus here, and to be able to work at the academic level as a feeder of new skills is perfectly suited to our project.”
Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum was also at the site to announce the project had been given Major Project Status, which is Federal Government recognition of the strategic significance of a project to the country.
“It means the Federal Government will be working much, much closer with Cannatrek now that they have Major Project Status, than if that was not the case,” he said.
“The ability to access further grants down the track will be improved.
“It's something Cannatrek had been chasing for the last few months to put them into the same category as some of their competitors,” he said.
“Obviously with Australia's reputation in the agriculture sector, which is second to none, and also combine that with Australia's reputation for medicine and medical drugs, these two combinations put together will see Cannatrek in a fantastic position to go forward.”
The project will cost the company $160 million and is expected to produce 160 tonnes of medicinal cannabis per annum.
Mr Huppert said he would like to see construction begin before the end of June, with production starting in 2021.