When Environment Minister, Phil Hogan, turns the sod on the new Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) milk processing factory in the deep south of the county on May 17 it will be the catalyst for the single largest job creation programme in the South East for decades.
It will place Kilkenny and in particular South Kilkenny at the centre of a huge employment bonanza with 1,600 new jobs coming on stream over the next two years starting in a few weeks - leading to the contribution of hundreds of millions of euro every year to the economy.
CEO of GII, Jim Bergin said that the new milk plant at Belview, Slieverue was a significant, strategic development for Kilkenny, the South East and for Glanbia.
The Ballyragget man continued: “Most of all it reflects our confidence in, and commitment to our 4,300 milk suppliers by providing this additional processing capacity where we will be facilitating milk suppliers in their ambition to avail of the opportunity presented by EU quota abolition post 2015,” he said.
He added that he was pleased that through Enterprise Ireland, the Government had acknowledged the economic contribution of the Belview project. “The Belview project will be entirely focused on export markets and will supply a range of nutritional powders to an increasing number of regions, including the Middle East, Africa, Central America and Asia,” he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced at Government buildings that Enterprise Ireland will part fund the construction of the world-class dairy facility at Belview. He said that it had been approved at Cabinet by himself, Minister Hogan and other members yesterday morning. “It will be of particular benefit to farm families and rural communities,” he said.
Minister Hogan said 1,600 new jobs would make a huge difference to the economy locally and nationally and would drive things forward. “A lot of planning had gone into the project and I am certain it will provide the impetus that Kilkenny needed for job creation. “It will also give hope for the future of what can be done and we have to remain positive in the future because we know that it will bring other spin-off benefits yet to be evaluated and it will show that Kilkenny is a good place to do business,” he added.
GII is Ireland’s leading dairy ingredients company, processing 1.6 billion litres of milk or 30% of Ireland’s milk pool into a range of dairy ingredients for export to more than 50 countries.