The GV's “Big Apple” is thriving thanks to investment in the agricultural industry

Anna Turnbull

A thriving town centre with lively shopping strips, efficient transport and easy parking.

That’s the vision pharmacist John Anderson has for Shepparton, or as he calls it, “the Goulburn Valley’s Big Apple”. Add to that picture a safe bypass, upgraded rail services and expanding manufacturing across diverse industries.

“Think about our ideal climate, universities and low house prices.Then there’s a rebuild of the Shepparton Art Museum and GV Health unfolding,”Mr Anderson said. With this in mind for Shepparton, he says, “the sky’s the limit”.

The Kyabram born retailer has played a vital role in caring for people’s health for 39 years. Working alongside other medical professionals through his well-known Wyndham St pharmacy, Mr Anderson has improved the well-being of countless customers. Connections with locals, their families and the broader health industry are what he values most.

But he balances this role with a successful business. As the chamber of commerce acting president Mr Anderson said drawing shoppers from outlying areas was a major priority. And retailers rely on primary producers to come into town, like they have for more than 130 years.  

That’s why the Connections Project is so valuable. It’s the largest irrigation modernisation project in Australia funded by the Victorian and Australian Governments. It’s investing $2 billion to create a sustainable future for productive agriculture in northern Victoria and is on-track for October 2020 completion. This year, programs are focused on connecting landowners to the modern system and installing pipeline.

“Irrigation water is absolutely vital. It is the life blood of the area. It gives our city, the heart of the region, reason for development over time,” Mr Anderson said.

Project Director Frank Fisseler said the Project is a significant contributor to job creation and investment. It creates hundreds of jobs for local contractors, designers, manufacturers and other water related industries.

On-going benefits occur each time works are completed and deliver water, with this year’s annual works budget valued at $200 million for the second consecutive year.  

Mr Anderson said flow-on benefits from the project could be seen locally beyond the water savings.

“It is providing jobs. And if the overall project achieves its aim, the area will remain viable in delivering a reliable water supply,” he said.

The $2 billion Connections Project is Australia’s largest irrigation modernisation project and is funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments

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