State business body backs Bendigo airport

PRIORITIES: VECCI chief executive Mark Stone addresses Bendigo business leaders on Tuesday.

PRIORITIES: VECCI chief executive Mark Stone addresses Bendigo business leaders on Tuesday.

VICTORIA'S peak employers' body sees the redevelopment of Bendigo Airport as the city's top infrastructure priority ahead of the November state election.

Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) chief executive Mark Stone addressed Bendigo business leaders at a lunch at Bendigo Town Hall on Tuesday.

Mr Stone said the construction of a longer and wider runway at the airport was an "essential" project for the city.

"This is a once in a decade opportunity for Bendigo," he said.

"The upgrade of the runway, or Stage 2 of the project, will then open up an opportunity to create a business park in that area.

"The next step would be to have an assessment of land availability near the airport.

"Stage 3 will involve a lot of private sector investment."

The City of Greater Bendigo and the Coalition government each committed $5 million to the runway project and were waiting for an equal contribution from the Federal Government.

Mr Stone said the next state government should also look to Bendigo for any future relocation of a major government department.

"We've already seen the relocation of VicRoads to Ballarat," he said.

"Something like the CFA has a lot of links to regional Victoria.

"You've got to have the right location and in the infrastructure in place. Bendigo has all of that and has a proven capability to house large organisations."

VECCI formed its election agenda after working with the Bendigo Business Council, The City of Greater Bendigo and through business forums in regional Victoria.

Mr Stone said he had met with the Premier, opposition leader, treasurer and shadow treasurer with their list of priorities.

Other priorities included a mandatory 20 per cent local content level in government projects and purchasing, increased VET in schools funding and lifting the payroll tax threshold to $850,000.

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