$20M expansion to create 20 new jobs on the North Coast
UP TO 50 jobs will disappear from the Riverina while 20 will be created on the North Coast in a major restructure of Big River Group’s operations.
The nationwide company which started in Grafton 120 years ago is set to consolidate its plywood manaufacturing business by phasing out its timber mill at Wagga and expanding its capabilities at Junction Hill.
Following the Black Summer bushfires, the long term supply of logs for their operations in the south were severely impacted and it became apparent there was insufficient log resources in the Tumut region to sustain the Wagga facility, while a sustainable supply of both hardwood and softwood logs exist to supply Junction Hill.
Big River Group secured a $10 million ‘dollar-for-dollar’ bushfire industry recovery grant to assist in consolidating its operations and enhance its Grafton-based facility.
Staff at the Ausply site in Wagga were notified this morning of the decision to close the factory in 2021, while Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis joined Big River Group chief executive officer Jim Bindon at the Junction Hill site today to announce the funding injection.
Mr Hogan said the $20 million project has the capacity to create 20 new jobs in Grafton, whilst securing the jobs of the current 60 full time employees.
“I am focussed on backing projects that are creating and retaining jobs across our region,” he said.
“This project will enhance the production capacity for all plywood products, including high quality formply products, architectural panels and high strength plywood for civil construction.”
Mr Gulaptis said it was important to back projects that put people back in work, retain existing jobs and stimulate local economies.
“There is currently an excess of pine log availability in our region, providing a sustainable resource for Big River,” Mr Gulaptis said.
“While this has been a difficult decision for the company, it is a positive outcome for our community and comes at a critical time after back-to-back challenges.”
The $10 million grant has been provided through the Bushfire Industry Recovery Package, co-funded by the NSW and Federal Governments and will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis by Big River Group.