The prospect of Norco pulling out of Lismore and its factory becoming warehouse apartments or, worse still, falling derelict, was starting to worry a few of our key leaders
Instead, Norco has announced it will borrow up to $60 million, to add about $45 million in government hand-outs, and re-open its ice cream factory on the banks of the Wilsons River.
If all goes according to plan, Norco's ice cream factory could be back up an running in some capacity as early as next April and 150 workers or more re-employed.
Critically, mitigation measures will be installed onsite allowing Norco to defend a 15m flood into the future.
Months of tense negotiations ended last Tuesday when Norco announced it was staying in Lismore.
At a media conference to flesh out the details, Page MP Kevin Hogan highlighted the stark options that were at stake.
"We had two options," he said. "This factory was going to be a wasteland of weeds, and closed, and an eyesore to this town, and a memory of day's past.
"Or, it was going to be a functioning, modern ice cream factory.
"Pleasantly, pleasingly it is the second. We are going to have a world class ice cream factory in Lismore."
Lismore mayor Steve Krieg congratulated the Norco board for keeping the factory alive.
He said Norco's continued presence in the city was "critical".
"As the mayor of Lismore I am constantly thinking of the future and I was already ... thinking 'oh warehouse apartment sort of style'. Like what do we do with this site if Norco doesn't come back," he said.
Eureka dairy farmer Warren Gallagher said Lismore simply wouldn't be the same without Norco.
"Lismore is the home of Norco and without the major signage for a producing factory in Norco, it would be very detrimental to the region," he said.
"It is like Norco losing its voice to home.
"It is very significant for the whole region, not just to us farmers, because we are all like family."
Glenn MacIntosh is one of 16 Norco workers in Lismore who has been kept on to get things back up to speed.
"For the guys that remain, and the people working in the area hoping to come back, today's news is the best they could have ever received," he said.
"There were a lot of people who left because they had to, to get jobs, and I know they are desperate to come back."
Construction is expected to commence this month at the site, with all works to be completed and the factory fully operational by the end of June 2023.
It's expected the factory will be built back to the same size it had been prior to the flood with about four processing lines in place.
Norco has utilised other contractors in the mean time to keep ice cream in stores.
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