The project will include installing a new timber moulder to significantly increase manufacturing capacity to meet growing demand; timber shedding and flooring for extra storage; and a fire protection and power upgrade.
An additional 18 full-time equivalent jobs for individuals with a disability and three full-time equivalent support staff positions will be created as a result. The timber processing output is expected to improve by more than 40 per cent.
Bedford Chief Executive Sally Powell said the organisation was thrilled to receive this important funding which will go on to 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,” she said.
Letters of support for Bedford’s NSRF application came from across the south-east and wider business community, including from the Federal Member for Barker, Tony Pasin MP, the City of Mt Gambier, Business South Australia and Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast.
Mr Pasin, whose electorate covers the south-east, said the funding would ensure business growth for Bedford over the medium to long-term and provide significant benefits to the region in a broader capacity.
“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 a disability,” he said.
Additional support came from 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.
Bedford employs more than 115 people in the south-east who use locally sourced timber to create products such as pickets, floorboards; bearers and cleats; as well as cut-to-size timber and hand constructed novelty boxes for Coonawarra wineries.
Since Bedford purchased the timber operation in 2010, the spend with local suppliers has increased from $59,000 to $1 million in 2014.
The total cost of the upgrade is $1 million, with the National Stronger Regions Fund program contributing half of this amount, and Bedford investing the remaining $500,000. Construction is expected to start in January.
The NSRF is a new program to promote economic development in Australia’s regions.