Geoff Helisma The Clarence Valley can look forward to an increase in employment opportunities over the years ahead, according to employment projection figures released by the Department of Employment last week. The department has projected 13.2 percent and 7.1 percent growth in jobs for the Coffs Harbour-Grafton and Richmond Valley-Tweed Heads areas, respectively, over the five years to November 2019. Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker said in a press release that the federal government’s investment in the region “is paying dividends in the local economy”. He said that the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region’s projected employment growth figure was “among the strongest of any region in Australia”. “[It] equates to 8,500 new jobs,” he said. Meanwhile, Page MP Kevin Hogan welcomed the employment projections, too. He said it was “fantastic news for our job seekers and families”. “The vast majority of these jobs are connected to the federal government’s $5.6 billion investment in the duplication of the Pacific Highway between Ballina and Woolgoolga,” he said. Mr Hogan pointed out that the figures do not include jobs associated with the plan to build a new gaol in Grafton, which was announced by the NSW Government last week. A breakdown of the projections by region and industry can be downloaded at: http://lmip.gov.au/default.aspx?LMIP/EmploymentProjections.