West Midlands orchard operators AGRIFresh have won the Economic Development Award at the 2020 Western Australian Regional Achievement and Community Awards overnight.
The annual Award, sponsored by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), recognises the efforts of the businesses and not-for-profit sectors to drive economic growth and jobs.
DPIRD Director General Ralph Addis congratulated AGRIFresh on its achievements, which he said exemplified the innovation and tenacity of WA’s regional businesses.
“AGRIFresh has taken just 15 years to build a successful integrated citrus and mango orchard business, including growing, packing and marketing, which now exports to 15 countries around the globe,” he said.
“From a family owned and operated business of two, AGRIFresh now employs more than 80 people, with at least three quarters located in the West and Central Midlands near its orchards, stimulating the local economy and further business opportunities.
“The business has defied the limitations of COVID-19 and installed an 8000 square metre packing facility and is on track to generate $5 million in revenue in 2020.”
Mr Addis also paid tribute to the other Economic Development Award finalists, including the Ngarliyarndu Bindirri Aboriginal Corporation’s Brida social enterprise, which has been operating in the Pilbara for more than 45 years.
“I admire the longevity of Brida, which provides cleaning services, ground maintenance, landscaping, waste management and labour hire to clients on the Pilbara coast, where the benefits flow back to the community of Roebourne,” he said.
“The company strives to provide meaningful, long term careers for its 170 employees, 65 per cent of whom are local Aboriginal people, engendering pride, empowerment and independence.”
The Warmun Art Centre was also a finalist, which Mr Addis said had enriched the local Gija community for more than 30 years.
“The Centre led the way in adapting to the ‘new normal’ business environment and launched an online art shop and web cart earlier this year, which has been very successful,” he said.
“Sales have performed above average, grossing more than $850,000 in total artwork sales, while the number of participants increased by 35 per cent to around 95 artists, generating positive economic and social impacts for the remote community.”
Broome’s Willie Creek Pearls was another finalist and northern Australian success story, which has grown from a staff of nine, 31 years ago, to a team of more than 80 local employees.
“This local family owned and operated business now stretches well beyond commercial pearling and includes manufacturing, jewellery, retail, hospitality and tourism,” Mr Addis said.
“In addition to creating local employment, the company also stimulates the local economy through its engagement with more than 100 local suppliers.”
DPIRD continues to support the economic growth and development of regional enterprises throughout WA, through a number of initiatives to build business capacity and capability to overcome constraints and capture opportunities.
“The department continues to administer the Regional Economic Development Grants program, in association with Regional Development Commissions, with more than 70 businesses to benefit from the latest round of funding announced recently,” Mr Addis said.
“The Digital Farm Grants program is delivering fast, reliable, affordable and scalable broadband to enhance businesses operations in areas that fall outside of the NBN fixed wireless and fixed line footprint.
“Our Agrifood and Beverage Voucher Program is also providing up to $10,000 to assist manufacturing operators access professional business support services to help grow their operations to be benefit of local communities and economies.”
For more information about the department’s agribusiness, food and trade services and activities visit agric.wa.gov.au
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison, +61 (0)8 9368 3937