Friday, April 19, 2024

$22 million upgrade for Grafton timber company set to create 20 new jobs: Williamson

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The Hon. Richie Williamson, State Member for Clarence (NSW), Media Release, 3 April 2024

The expansion of one of the Clarence Valley’s largest timber factories, Big River Group is a huge boost to the local economy and sets the bar high in supplying the sustainable manufacturing of high-quality specialist technical timber products across the State.

The upgrade includes the installation of state-of-the-art machinery that will substantially increase Big River’s output enabling them to supply an unprecedented volume of timber products.

State Member for Clarence, Richie Williamson and Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan were onsite today for the official opening of the $22 million upgrade.

The upgrade was supported with $10 million in co-funding from the former NSW and Federal Liberal and Nationals Governments under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund to help consolidate the company’s operations.

Mr Williamson said Big River Group has been part of the local landscape since the 1960s and has grown into a multi-million-dollar business that is well renowned for its high-quality product and one of the Clarence Valley’s major industry employers.

“Following the Black Summer bushfires in 2019, the long-term supply of logs for its operations were severely impacted and it became apparent there was insufficient log resources in the Tumut region to sustain the Wagga Wagga facility,” Mr Williamson said.

“Big River Group made a business decision to consolidate its operations to a single site at Grafton, where a sustainable supply of both hardwood and softwood logs exist.

“While this was a difficult decision for the company, it’s a positive outcome for our community and comes at a critical time after back-to-back challenges.

“It’s important to back projects that put people back in work, retain existing jobs and stimulate local economies as well as deliver high-quality timber products to the construction industry well into the future.”

Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan said the $22 million project will increase the local workforce to 75, securing the jobs of existing employees and its 610 employees nationally.

“I am focussed on backing projects that are creating and retaining jobs across our region,” Mr Hogan 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.”

CEO of Big River Group, John Lorente expressed his enthusiasm for the project’s completion stating the upgrade signifies not just an expansion of Big River’s operational capacity, but a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the future of a timber industry in NSW.

“With the support of the Forestry Recovery Development Fund Program, we are poised to make a significant impact on the availability of high-quality timber products, while also securing and creating jobs locally, regionally and nationally,” Mr Lorente said.

“We are thankful for the support provided by both the Australian and NSW State Governments through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund. The funding provided has been crucial in allowing us to modernise our operations and expand our team.”

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