Above: The silos at Woodstock (centre) and Race Dental facilities in Sydney.
THE deal involving conversion of the disused rail silos at Woodstock into a plant specialising in dental prosthetics and research has been pulled – Cowra Shire and Sydney-based Race Dental have agreed to part ways.
The company will keep the Woodstock pub.
Race Dental’s Brad Race says withdrawal of promised federal funding numbers among obstacles fronting the company including “power and internet issues”.
Mayor of Cowra, Bill West, says commercial and practical hurdles ultimately condemned the project “at this point”.
The parties today (Friday) issued this statement:
“The project to establish a production-based dental laboratory at Woodstock now being officially terminated however the Cowra Shire Council’s efforts to help have been acknowledged in a letter from the production company
Race Dental had established a pilot hi-tech denture manufacturing laboratory facility at the rear of the Woodstock Hotel and were in the process of developing fully the old Woodstock Silo site, but a mixture of factors including an inability to attract specialist staff, withdrawal of Federal Government funding, and power and internet issues, has seen the project terminated.
“Cowra Council and the State Government’s Department of State and Regional Development have worked hard to try and assist with the project and have been a pleasure to work with... despite all the efforts from everyone involved, the setbacks that we have encountered have left the project in an untenable state,” Brad Race from Race Dental said.
Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West, while being disappointed, acknowledged that a number of commercial and practical hurdles ultimately condemned the project at this point.
“Council is very disappointed but we understand that a commercial decision had to be made by the company; Council has made every effort to be patient and assist Race Dental in investigating all opportunities to build the factory,” Cr West said.
“Council resolved in April 2008 to provide $600,000 assistance to Race Dental, half in cash and half in-kind. To date, the first cash payment of $100,000 has been made in June 2009 as the agreed criteria had been met. No other payments have been made," Cr West said.
Mr Race pointed out that, despite local and State Government support, Federal Government funding had not matched initial pledges despite heavy local investment from Race Dental.
“At the inception of the project, funding agreements were secured from Federal, State and Local Government. The majority of the promised funding was subsequently rescinded after the investment into the area had already begun. Since 2008, we have received $250,000 from a promised $2.15 million in assistance. Despite this, an inward investment of $2.35 million has been made into the region to support this project. A further $2 million plus has been made in other local investments,” Mr Race said.
High power-use requirements and slow and intermittent internet access were other factors in Race Dental’s final decision.
“Inadequate and unreliable power and internet access emerge as the major infrastructure impediments to expanding our base in the region. Costs to bring adequate power into Woodstock for a manufacturing facility have been estimated at some $600–800,000,” Mr Race said.
“Internet service near the site is not of a commercial grade, and therefore not adequate to support a business that relies on digital workflows,” Mr Race said.
Other issues included inability to attract specialist staff, the reluctance of the large commercial lenders to invest in regional projects, and the general economic downturn since 2008.
“The failure of the Federal Government to regulate the teeth being manufactured overseas while continuing to regulate the locally made teeth is another major factor in our decision,” Mr Race said.
Mr Race said that, despite the setback, the company had other ongoing investments in the Shire: “We will continue to develop our other interests in the region in the farming and hospitality sectors.
“The renovation of the hotel at Woodstock was on hold intending to run in tandem with the silo development, but has now recommenced. Continued investment in farming in the region remains a desire of the family and it is hoped that we may be able to revisit manufacturing options at some point in the future,” Mr Race said.”