The local manufacturing industry in Eden-Monaro has been given a helping hand by the Federal Government as a new $50 million modernisation fund aims to prop up businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The fund has paid out almost $200,000 to two manufacturing companies in the region in the hope of boosting productivity and creating more jobs in a lagging economy.
The Manufacturing Modernisation Fund (MMF) will help subsidise 200 projects worth more than $215 million Australia-wide for small and medium businesses to upgrade manufacturing processes and upskill their workforces.
NSW Liberal Senator Jim Molan said it is this support that will help the region – that has been devastated by bushfires, drought and COVID-19 – get back on its feet.
“This investment will not only strengthen these businesses and create jobs, but will also provide a much-needed confidence boost for the whole region as we face this unprecedented pandemic,” said Mr Molan.
The Columbia Corporation will receive $100,000 towards a $267,000 welding upgrade project that will automate manual welding processes to increase the productivity of softwood sawmill systems.
Tactical Research will also benefit from the fund, receiving a $90,000 grant to more efficiently build electro optic systems such as lasers and LEDs. The financial injection from the Federal Government will cover 50 per cent of the $180,000 project.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews is expecting the modernisation fund to create an extra 2600 jobs Australia-wide and help the industry become, and remain, more competitive post-COVID-19.
The fund was established to invest in new technology and equipment before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, but the incapacitation of local industries because of enforced restrictions and lockdown measures means the payments are needed now more than ever, said Minister Andrews.
“Now as we face the coronavirus pandemic and look to come out the other side stronger, this investment will be more critical than ever,” she said.
“I am determined to further strengthen Australian manufacturing, and the current pandemic gives us the opportunity as a nation to reassess and commit to the values of Australian-made goods.”
Applicants could apply for amounts ranging between $50,000 and $1 million for up to 50 per cent of a project. The first stage of the fund is now closed.
The second stage will put $30 million towards larger businesses, providing grants between $100,000 and $1 million and covering up to 25 per cent of projects to support investment in new technologies.
The awarding of the grants comes during a time of uncertainty in Eden-Monaro after incumbent federal Labor MP, Dr Mike Kelly, resigned due to medical reasons on Thursday, 30 April.
Mr Kelly said the person who takes over his mantle following a by-election will have to champion local issues currently facing the region, and put them at the forefront of the national agenda. He claimed the Eden-Monaro region has suffered more than anywhere else in Australia in recent times.
“[Eden-Monaro] deserves to be prioritised right now,” he said. “We need clear, thorough [and] imaginative policies to rebuild our economy.”
The past summer’s bushfires burnt more than one million hectares, destroyed 1000 homes and killed more than 9000 livestock in the Eden-Monaro region alone.
Mr Molan was originally touted to put his hat in the ring for the federal seat but told Region Media his focus is on serving the people of NSW as a senator and recognising that the needs of fire-affected people in Eden-Monaro are best represented in the Lower House.