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Byron Shire
November 30, 2022

Norco set for rebuild but what about other businesses?

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While the community digests Tuesday’s news of Norco’s Lismore ice cream factory’s rebuild, Norco Chief Executive, Michael Hampson wants to stress the importance of the plight of all flood-affected Lismore businesses including small and medium size ventures.

While Hampson acknowledges the positive impact the Government’s $60 million Anchor Package funding will have on the community, he also says that the co-operative will continue to advocate for greater financial support for other businesses in region.

A positive step forward

Hampson said the rebuild represents a very positive step forward for the ongoing, Lismore recovery efforts. ‘But, we also want to see the Northern Rivers business community thriving once again and this can only happen with greater financial support from both the state and federal governments – because jobs, livelihoods and the future of Lismore depends on it.

As a major business in the Northern Rivers region, Norco says the announcement is good news not just for the dairy co-operative and its workforce, but also the many small and medium businesses that rely on its operation to drive economic activity.

The factory rebuild is supported by a $34.7 million grant from the Federal and NSW State Government’s Anchor Business Support Program, and bolstered by an $11 million grant that remains outstanding from the 2019 Regional Growth Fund (RGF); a program that was delayed due to COVID-19 and then paused following the floods.

Safeguarding the future

In addition, to bring the project to life Norco’s co-contribution will be over $59 million (under the Anchor Business Support Grant guidelines), an investment that the 100 per cent farmer-owned co-operative said was important to make in order to safeguard the factory’s future for its workforce, and to keep supporting the broader Lismore community.

Mr Hampson says that it’s exciting for Norco and its farmer members, and an incredibly rewarding outcome given the positive impact the rebuild will have on the Lismore recovery efforts. ‘We know how important this factory and its operations are to this region and we’ve always been committed to do everything we can, within our means, to see a future for the facility.

Norco’s Electric Coordinator, Glenn Mackintosh, said this is huge news for the town. ‘There are so many of us that have really invested in the Norco family. As an electrician, I don’t have to work for Norco but I’m so grateful that I remained positive and backed them all the way because now we can rebuild for a better factory and community.

‘Since the first day after the floods, we have been doing everything we can to prepare the plant and we are already weeks ahead and hoping we can onboard more staff earlier than anticipated.’

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  1. “Mr Hampson said the rebuild represents a very positive step forward …” – toward what: the next flood?

    While I support Norco’s continued existence, I cannot support the stupidity of rebuilding on the same site, especially at taxpayer expense.

    If the rebuild goes ahead and is subsequently destroyed by another (inevitable) flood, who picks up the tab next time? The taxpayer?

    Do it once and do it right: move far away from the river. Now that Norco no longer uses the river for transport, what’s the point of staying on the riverbank?

    Madness, complete and utter madness!

    • Madness indeed would be to rebuild exactly the same as before the flood.
      There was coverage of this Norco rebuilder announcement on the TV news and a point was pushed that the rebuild involves ‘lifting up’ the electrical stuff to avoid another flood destruction of the electrical stuff.
      The ‘lifting up’ is to be above the recent 14.4 record flood height, in the TV news report lifting up to ’15 metres ‘ was mentioned.
      So a buffer of only 0.6 metres over the recent flood record which does seem rather skinny when rebuilding on the river with climate change and the warming atmosphere holding more water.
      It does seem like madness Norco playing a game of chicken with river flooding.

  2. Well, they claim they are building so that all can be raised above 14 m. At taxpayer ( and shareholders) expense.
    They are hoping the CSIRO will find ways to mitigate future floods( good luck with that!)
    They hope to re-employ 170 people who may or may not still be around. How does that comapre with SCU or the Hospital or Bunnings?
    They make ice cream; how important is that for mankind?

  3. Read the fine print. Despite receiving grants and extensions to grants totalling in excess of $43 million, NORCO has dismissed more than 150 casual and permanent workers. This was on top of laying off 70 workers in July. At least 40 of these workers are among the thousands who lost their homes in the floods. In 2020/21 Norco made a a net operating profit of $12.7 million from a heavy casualised workforce. Open your eyes Lismore – Norco management aided and abetted by the unions are for profit, not community and worker support. It’s a disgrace.


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