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Eight Lower South West businesses impacted by timber shutdown share in $7 million in State Government funding

Melissa PedeltyManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis announced the first round recipients of the Small Business Development and Diversification grants program.
Camera IconForestry Minister Jackie Jarvis announced the first round recipients of the Small Business Development and Diversification grants program. Credit: Supplied

Eight Lower South West businesses impacted by the contentious decision to end native logging by 2024 have received a share in $7 million in funding through the Small Business Development and Diversification grants program.

Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis today announced that 21 businesses across southern Western Australia will benefit from the first round of the program, helping them to remain open and invest in job creation through diversification, expansion and innovation.

The recipients include furniture makers, transport companies, children’s playground builders, firewood contractors and garden suppliers.

Manjimup recipients — including Froome Haulage, Kristoffersson Furniture, Herdigan Transport Pty Ltd, Lilbourne Contracting, Ecofriendly Solutions Pty Ltd and South West Sharpening Service — have recieved between $265,500 and $400,000, while Mumballup Organics and The Nannup Furniture Gallery have received $400,000 and $38,100 respectively.

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Herdigan Transport owner Wayne Herdigan — who has been in the timber industry for more than 50 years and is currently set up as a firewood contractor working solely at his site in the Manjimup light industrial area — said he is looking forward to investing in machinery to further diversify his business which will involve being able to address the market for timber chopping on private property.

The Wadandi-Bibbulmun elder said he also hopes to be able to bring on Aboriginal youth to mentor and upskill in the future.

Kristoffersson Furniture owner Andrew Kristoffersson said he intends to use the funds to expand his business and to open up a gallery attached to his workshop, which he said will be a fantastic tourism opportunity for the town.

South West Sharpening Service owner Alan Trease — known as a “saw doctor” — said he will look to pivot entirely out of timber and into tourism.

Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis and Andrew Kristoffersson.
Camera IconForestry Minister Jackie Jarvis and Andrew Kristoffersson. Credit: Supplied

Mr Trease said he intends to convert his property in west Manjimup into a tourism venture that will include short-stay accommodation and is nervous but hopeful about the prospect.

Alan Trease and Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis.
Camera IconAlan Trease and Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis. Credit: Supplied

Mumballup Organics owner Mark Tilbrook said he was super excited to pivot out of the reliance on native timber and to move his business in the next direction.

Some of the recipients also plan to invest in additional machinery and employees, and innovative practices that will ensure the long-term sustainability of their businesses within the region.

Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis said the McGowan Government is committed to supporting South-West communities through the transition, while also preserving WA’s natural forests for future generations to come.

“The Small Business Development and Diversification grants are one of several programs providing financial support to businesses and communities in WA’s native forest regions,” she said.

The Small Business Development and Diversification grants — first announced in August last year — form part of the Industry and Community Development Programs, which are the third and final pillar of the McGowan Government’s $80 million Native Forestry Transition plan.

Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie said it’s fantastic to see the rollout of the SBD&D grants program, supporting small local businesses as they transition away from large-scale native forestry logging.

“I fought hard to increase the transition package from $50 million to $80 million, securing an extra $15 million in grant funding, across two rounds, for local businesses,” she said, “This is in addition to securing funding for New Industry Development Grants, Community Small Grants, and a Closure of Impacted Businesses program.

“I know many of the recipients are excited about the opportunity these grants present for their businesses to diversify and thrive while helping to create more jobs in our region.”

Applications for the second round of funding open in late 2023.

Eligible applicants that were not successful in the first round are encouraged to reapply.

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