Disability organisation Bedford has received $500,000 to upgrade its Mount Gambier timber manufacturing facility as part of the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) program established to promote economic development in Australia’s regions.
The project envisions installing a new timber moulder to increase the plant’s manufacturing and timber shedding capacity, as well as modernising and expanding its power grid, storage space and fire protection capability.
The upgrade is expected to increase the plant’s timber processing output by more than 40 per cent, which will result in the creation of additional 18 full-time equivalent jobs for people with disability and three full-time equivalent support staff positions.
Bedford Chief Executive Sally Powell said the funding would not only help the organisation’s cause, but would also help strengthen economic diversity in the State’s South-East.
“This upgrade will allow Bedford to increase its sales volume of timber products, value-add to the local timber industry and continue to provide ongoing employment,” Ms Powell said.
“The investment will also strengthen key relationships with customers and suppliers and maintain the important diversification of timber processing in the region. Bedford Mt Gambier plays a vital role in the provision of meaningful and relevant vocational skills in the South-East and we look forward to this expanding as a result of this funding.”
Bedford’s NSRF application was endorsed by the South-East business community and a number of political figures, including Federal Member for Barker, Tony Pasin MP, the City of Mt Gambier, Business SA, Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast, the Federal Member for Boothby, Andrew Southcott MP, the State Member for Mount Gambier, Troy Bell MP, and local business partners Timberlink Australia Pty Ltd, Carter Holt Harvey Pinepanels and Luv-a-Duck.
Mr Pasin, whose electorate covers the South-East, said the funding would ensure Bedford’s medium to long-term business growth and provide significant benefits to the entire region.
“I’ve seen first-hand the important contribution Bedford makes to the local economic activity and this will most certainly grow with this considerable expansion,” Mr Pasin said.
“The success of this application also expands employment opportunities for people in the South-East with disability.”
Bedford employs more than 115 workers in the South-East and uses locally sourced timber to manufacture pickets, floorboards, bearers, cleats and many other products.
The total cost of the upgrade is $1 million, with Bedford to finance the remaining $500,000. Construction is expected to start in January.