A timber company that will gradually shed all of its 50 Wagga-based workers applied for a government grant to help consolidate its operations weeks before employees learnt of the decision.
Factory workers found out on Tuesday that they would lose their jobs when Big River announced the closure of its Forest Hill Ausply factory due to this summer's bushfires.
Big River told shareholders in a statement that the company had secured $10 million in funding from NSW government to support the merger of its operations in Grafton.
"Some relocation opportunities to Grafton will be offered, as staff numbers will increase there by around 20 positions as the project develops," the statement said.
Big River's chief executive officer Jim Bindon said the company made the difficult decision after losing 40 per cent of its contracted wood supply in the fires.
Mr Bindon said the company had examined other models to keep the Forest Hill site running, including importing logs from other regions which "unfortunately, just doesn't sustain a business there".
The company was awarded $10 million under the state government's Bushfire Industry Recovery Package announced in October, which was awarded to its Grafton site in the Clarence Valley Local Government Area.
Sixteen grants were made under the same program to businesses in the Snowy Valleys Local Government Area, including $10 million for Visy Pulp and Paper in Tumut, according to a publicly available list.
Member for Wagga Joe McGirr said Ausply's closure was incredibly disappointing.
"I think their supply of wood out of the bushfire catastrophe was a factor for them. We've offered our assistance. In the end I think they've made a decision for their own reasons to relocate to Grafton," Dr McGirr said.
"I do want to note, in fairness to the government, they've made quite strong regional support in other areas."
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said it was a sad day for the city and disappointing for those people who would lose their jobs.
"I have been aware for a short period of time they were looking at closing and consolidating their activities up in Grafton," Cr Conkey said.
"It would have been a difficult decision for the company, I appreciate that. But it's a disappointment for this city."
Wagga-based NSW upper house MP Wes Fang said the closure would help secure timber and fibre supplies for other companies in the region also struggling after the fires.
"It's unfortunate but the government's going to do what it can to help Big River secure some of those positions for the Wagga employees," Mr Fang said.
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