THREE companies with strong links to China are in the process of buying the former Glenormiston agricultural college.
The companies — Acknowledge Education, Total Livestock Genetics and the Montgomery’s Volume Group — are set to buy the state-owned Glenormiston, which has been vacant for more than two years.
Little-known Melbourne training company, Acknowledge Education, is the lead partner in the sale.
The Victorian Government said agricultural education would return to the college under a complex arrangement of new partnerships.
Total Livestock Genetics at Camperdown, under director Shane Unsworth, will continue to use much of the 283ha site as it has in the past.
TLG has been rapidly expanding its business of exporting pregnant dairy cattle to China.
China-based entrepreneur Dean Montgomery is looking at restoring the former Glenormiston mansion, with its Robert Prenzel woodcarvings.
Geelong-born Mr Montgomery, 42, has a history of buying run-down historic buildings in western Victoria.
Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert said Acknowledge Education’s proposal included an educational hub at Glenormiston delivering courses including agriculture, manufacturing, horticulture, conservation and land management, business, tourism, transport and logistics.
It plans to offer a balance of Victorian Government-funded and fee-for-service training at Glenormiston from early next year to domestic and international students.
Mr Herbert said a cattle, dairy and crop farm would support practical training and accommodation for students.
The proposal includes a role for South West Institute of TAFE to be involved in the future operation of the site.
South West TAFE withdrew from Glenormiston in 2013 because of falling enrolments.
The sale terms have not been finalised.
Mr Montgomery, who is based in Hong Kong, operates a successful food handling manufacturing business with his brother, Adam.
He bought the old Fletcher Jones factory in Warrnambool in 2014 and converted it to a motor museum.
He also bought and renovated Camperdown’s century-old Leura Hotel in 2011 but has been unable to find a tenant.
Mr Montgomery is in negotiations with Northern Grampians Shire Council about the future use of the Pleasant Creek Training Centre site, Stawell’s former hospital, which he bought last year.
Mr Montgomery bought and restored the Geelong landmark T&G Building in 2012 before selling it to Deakin University for student accommodation in 2014.