ALMOST 40 Yarra Valley locals have been given a unique opportunity to work at a new chocolaterie that will open just before Christmas.
The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery was approved in February, despite its location in a green wedge.
The owners were given the green light to build the business at the site because of their strong link to local agricultural products.
Construction has been under way at the Healesville site throughout the year and it is expected to open by mid-December.
Local company Skate Constructions was given the contract, and the chocolaterie's managing director Leanne Neeland said despite one of their wettest winters, the team was still on track for a pre-Christmas opening.
She said she and husband Ian had just hired 39 locals to begin working at the chocolaterie from November.
They had nearly 300 applications for the 39 positions offered, including chocolate packers, customer service, production workers, grounds keepers and and administration roles.
Coldstream resident Astrid Reker was one of the successful applicants and it will be the first job for the 17 year old. "I was thinking of trying to get a job waitressing before I saw the ad, but I'm not 18 so I can't serve alcohol," she said. "There wasn't much out there for me."
The Mount Lilydale Mercy College student said the new job was ideal because it was just 15 minutes from her home. She met the other staff last week and said they all seemed "really chatty" and she was looking forward to working with them.
The chocolaterie is set on 40 acres of farmland and there will be a factory and cafe on site.