Forestry Minister Dave Kelly today announced three new grant programs to support economic development and job creation in South-West communities, ahead of the end of native forest logging in 2024.
The Industry and Community Development Programs are the third and final pillar of the Native Forestry Transition plan, funded by an additional $30 million announced in the 2022-23 State Budget. The third pillar in the $80 million Native Forestry Transition plan will help build strong, diverse regional economies and support the creation of local jobs.
The $15 million Small Business Development and Diversification program will provide grants of up to $400,000 to small businesses that have been impacted by the end of native forest logging to diversify or expand their business into new business streams. This funding is designed to assist secondary businesses that have a reliance on the native timber industry but do not have a direct contract with the Forest Products Commission.
New industry expansion and innovation in the region will be supported through a $10 million New Industry Development and Attraction program. The industry-led program will provide grants of up to $2 million, with matched funding, to accelerate new and existing business development, attract new industries and strengthen regional economies with diverse employment opportunities.
Funding of up to $100,000 will also be made available through the $5 million Community Development Small Grants program for projects that aim to stimulate regional economies and enhance the liveability of communities.
Applications for the Industry and Community Development Programs will commence opening from September 2022.
The programs were developed in consultation with the Native Forestry Transition Group, local government authorities, the Forest Industries Federation of Western Australia, the Australian Workers’ Union, and Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Since September 2021, the McGowan Government has committed $80 million to support the transition of workers, businesses and communities linked to the native forest industry.
The McGowan Government has also invested a record $350 million for new softwood plantations across the South-West, which will create and support WA forestry jobs.
The decision to end native forest logging from 2024 will preserve an additional 400,000 hectares of karri, jarrah and wandoo forests, and protect our precious native forests for future generations.
As stated by Forestry Minister Dave Kelly:
“The McGowan Government is committed to making sure South-West communities continue to grow and prosper into the future.
“Our historic decision to protect the State’s magnificent native forests creates significant opportunities for the region’s communities.
“We are making $30 million in grants available to help attract new industries to the South-West and develop sustainable regional economies that provide a choice of employment options not only to retain former native timber workers in the region, but to attract new workers and their families to our regions.”
As stated by Warren-Blackwood Jane Kelsbie MLA:
“These grant programs will support the establishment of new industries and create local jobs in our community.
“By diversifying the local economy and attracting sustainable industries to the region, we’re helping to future-proof our community as we transition out of native forest logging.”