MORE JOBS: Local cheese-making facility expands operations
WHEN mates Stuart Picken and Nathan Black realised there was a gap in the market for a delicious vegan cheese, the pair didn't waste any time.
Mr Picken, 42, is a former baker and pastry chef who later studied for a law degree and an MBA, while Mr Black is a carpenter and martial arts instructor.
They pooled their skills and resources to create Oneva Holdings.
Now their first effort, a macadamia nut-based feta cheese, has been released under their Eden Artisans label.
It will be available to consumers in April.
"We applied for a Federal grant in October 2017 and were notified in January 2018 we were were successful,” he said.
"At the end of last year we received the DA approval.”
Mr Picken said the $150,000 Federal grant, which they matched, was invaluable.
"This would not have happened without it,” he said.
Yesterday morning in the company of Member for Page Kevin Hogan, they saw the next step of their dream become reality as local contractors poured concrete for the expansion of the Alstonville macadamia processing facility.
"When complete the new facility will produce nut-based cheese for domestic and international markets,” Mr Picken said.
The business is also working with North Coast TAFE to train its local workforce.
Mr Black said four to six jobs would be created directly from the expansion, and up to 12 indirectly.
"It was important to employed locals to build and fit out the new facility,” he said.
Mr Hogan said he was thrill- ed new jobs would be created.