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A few weeks after announcing the establishment of an Economic Growth Zone in the Latrobe Valley, the Victorian Government has today announced progress on the development of a Hi-Tech Precinct in the area.

First unveiled in the state budget earlier this year, the government today announced a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to get work on the precinct underway.

To be based at Federation Training’s site in Morwell, the precinct will link up Federation University with Federation Training, the new Morwell Tech School, and private tenants, with Fujitsu also expected to be announced as the likely anchor tenant.

The MoU signed between the organisations provides a framework for development, the establishment of Fujitsu jobs, and an Open Innovation Concept to be integrated into the Precinct and the Morwell Tech School.

Glen Grant, vice president of Fujitsu, said, “We’re excited to be involved in the development of a business case for the Hi-Tech Precinct with a view to providing job opportunities in the Latrobe Valley, benefitting businesses and the community in the region.”

The company will look to establish a service centre operation and drive the ‘open innovation laboratory’ where the area’s research, business, and education communities can access Fujitsu’s computing and data analytics.

The precinct will also look to focus on growing sectors including new energy, health, food and fibre, and professional services.

Victorian Minister for Training and Skills, Gayle Tierney, said, “We’re working to make sure students in the Latrobe Valley have access to training at this precinct that aligns with the needs of local industry now and in the future.”

The precinct will join a number of other measures announced by the government to help the Latrobe Valley make it through the closure of the Hazelwood power plant.

As part of the development of the Economic Growth Zone, the Red Tape Commissioner will look to find ways to reduce red tape in the area and identify regulatory barriers prohibiting growth, while a team of trade and investment specialists will work in the area to explore export opportunities and attract new businesses.

The Government has created a $10 million ‘economic facilitation fund’ to help grow new businesses, while $22 million will also look to help support workers and businesses affected by the closure of the Hazelwood plant.

Initiatives within this package include the establishment of a Worker Transition Centre in partnership with the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council in Morwell to provide one on one support, as well as education, counselling, financial advice, and subsidised job seeker training for workers in transition.

Also part of the package will be tailored support for businesses to help them identify new opportunities and develop a transition plan, and an expansion of the Back to Work program to businesses that employ workers in the Latrobe Valley.

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