The Secret’s out: Jobs abound for businesses born and ‘bread’ in the Dubbo region

Close to 50 jobs are set to be created in the Dubbo region with the support of a NSW Government program that’s already delivering more than 500 roles across the electorate.

Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders has today announced funding for not one, but two businesses through the popular Regional Job Creation Fund (RJCF).

Ben Furney Flour Mills will receive $500,000 to support their $5.4 million investment in a new packaging line and warehouse management system.

“For more than 100 years, the Furney family has actively operated farms as well as the Dubbo mill, where they oversee the supply chain from paddock – most of them right here in the Dubbo region – to plate,” Mr Saunders said.

“Still a family owned and operated company, this funding will enable it to invest in high-speed packaging technology, implement a fully integrated intelligent warehouse management system, and create on-site R&D and quality assurance laboratory and training facilities.

“In doing so the company will add another 25 ongoing, full-time jobs, and continue to support the other hard-working farming families it’s been working with for decades.”

CEO Sarah Furney said the team is excited to see how Operation Optimise could benefit not only the business, but the region’s economy as well.

“This planned investment enables us to commission equipment and implement training programs to increase our productivity and deliver improved skills levels of both existing and new staff,” Ms Furney said.

“It further provides us with economic resilience allowing us to continue as a strong local employer.

“This investment in state-of-the-art equipment will enhance our contribution to the value-added supply chain for Australian agricultural products, complement our sustainability initiatives and support the continuation of our growing regional workforce.”

Secret Harvest, part of the Native Secrets group, will also receive $400,000 to enable the use of scientifically-proven extraction technology on bush medical plant Gumby Gumby, to produce a greater range of unaltered and effective compounds.

“Secret Harvest combines the ancient knowledge of the world’s oldest continuing culture, with world-first technology being trialled right here in the Dubbo region,” Mr Saunders said.

“Working with the CSIRO’s Kick-Start program, Secret Harvest is testing three distinct methods of extracting key bioactive ingredients from wild-harvested Australian native plants, for use in its skincare products.

“Once the science is in, this funding will enable the team to invest in the best technology, making Secret Harvest quite literally world leaders in native plant extraction technology, and helping create and export truly unique products to the world!”

Native Secrets was founded by Phil and Cherie Thompson in 2014.

“We’re having trouble sleeping, we’re that excited,” Mr Thompson said.

“It’s a bit surreal to be honest, because you have these dreams and when they all start coming true, it’s a really surreal experience.

“This grant really allows us to become world leaders in native plant extraction technology, and it’s a critical part of our growth strategy because it gives us a unique product, backed by science, that we can sell around the world!”

With rapid growth, Secret Harvest is forecasting it will be able to add 20 jobs to the business which until very recently only employed Phil, who is of Bidjara/Kara Kara descent, and Cherie, who has traditional links to the Wailwan people of Central Western NSW.

“We have an opportunity to create jobs for our people in our local area where we live and love,” Mr Thompson said.

“On top of creating jobs, we’re also sharing cultural knowledge and creating safe places for cultural exchange from our old people to our young people.

“We’re creating products that no one else is anywhere in the world, and in doing that we’re building relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, sharing and appreciating cultural knowledge, for the benefit of everyone – and that’s what reconciliation really is!”

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