THE Rupanyup community’s dream of establishing a retail hub on its main street is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Enterprise Rupanyup has worked on a project to create a plaza on Cromie Street since 2013. Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford visited the Wimmera town on Friday to announce $500,000 worth of funding for the project.
Ms Pulford said the funding would help breathe new life into the town.
“This has been coming for quite some time,” she said.
“I was here about five or six weeks ago and I met with Enterprise Rupanyup and a number of community members.
“I heard about this idea for the transformation of the retail precinct in town. It’s a little unlike what we usually fund and what we usually support in grants. This was unusual and a mould-breaking proposition.
“The time for change is coming and the risk of the supermarket closing posed a serious risk to the community.
“The community has been working on this for some time, it’s been an extraordinary fundraising effort – some $700,000.”
The project is a partnership between Bendigo Bank, Yarriambiack Shire and Enterprise Rupanyup.
E-Rup chairman Malcolm Uhe said the group needed about one million dollars to pull the project off.
“I thank the government very much for the contribution they have made towards this community project,” he said.
“It’s a very ambitious thing for a regional town to try to raise in excess of one million dollars and then to build a shopping centre in the middle of town.
“The fact that the government is willing to support us is a good sign for us and that we’re on the right track.
“I hope that this will serve as some kind of model for other towns to do because retaining our country towns is a very important thing.
“If we don’t find ways to keep country towns going, we’re just going to suffer.”
The plan will include a larger supermarket, a number of specialty shops and market piazza.
The Rupanyup Market Centre is expected to generate six full-time positions.