Washdyke site could employ 75
A multi-million dollar salmon processing plant employing 75 people is to be built at Washdyke.
Mt Cook Alpine Salmon chief executive Geoff Matthews has confirmed construction will begin at the Sheffield St site shortly, with the first stage expected to be completed by April.
He said it would bring 35 new jobs to Timaru, while a further 40 jobs could soon follow as the company would expand production and commission an added-value smoke house in three to four years time.
"I think this decision completes our connection to South Canterbury. It's been a hell of a lot of work to get here, but it's hugely exciting," Mr Matthews said.
He said it had taken more than a year of negotiation to choose the site for the plant after also canvassing options from Oamaru to Rangiora.
The company holds the exclusive rights to farm fish in the Tekapo and Ohau hydro canals.
Chris Broadhead Building will construct the processing plant.
Mr Matthews said the company was in the middle of a $20 million expansion of its operations, and wanted to bring more of its work back to New Zealand.
"It's been a sprint, but we're going to be moving even faster from here," Mr Matthews said.
Of the company's export production, 80 per cent had secondary processing in Indonesia, he said.
"So this brings everything back home. The challenge will be to find workers skilled enough for the job. We know we will succeed."
The jobs at the Washdyke plant will range from managerial to skilled filleters and fish-boners.
Mr Matthews says the new plant has been designed to process 3500 tonnes of harvested fish when at full capacity.
Mt Cook Alpine Salmon farms more than 800,000 salmon in the hydro canals, but its consent allows up two million at full capacity.
"We can't feed China, but we can feed those who expect the highest quality salmon," Mr Matthews said.
Timaru Mayor Janie Annear says she is delighted with the announcement.
Aoraki Development Business and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith said Mt Cook Alpine Salmon's decision to come to Timaru enhanced the district's reputation as the "food bowl of the South Island".
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