Bid to recover $6.1m Focus Press grant

Member for Throsby Stephen Jones is looking at whether a $6.1 million Commonwealth grant awarded to Focus Press can be recouped after the company sold its Wollongong plant, which has since been closed.

On Saturday, the Mercury reported between 40 and 50 jobs had been lost after Focus Press sold its Wollongong facility to BPA Print Group boss Mark Shergill.

Focus Press had been the recipient of a $6.1 million grant to help it take on Illawarra apprentices in 2012.

Mr Jones said news of the plant's closure had taken him by surprise.

"We are furious about it and I am looking at whether there are ways the money can be recovered," he said.

"Up until a month ago they were hiring and advertising to hire new apprentices.

"If you had asked me a month ago I'd say this was a success story - something has gone very wrong and we demand to know what."

The Mercury attempted to contact BPA Print Group, but it did not respond before deadline.

Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird urged the company to go public with its plans for the Illawarra.

"It's clear local workers have lost their jobs," she said.

"The company should explain publicly so people do understand in the local area what's going on and why people have lost their jobs."

A Department of Industry spokesman said under the funding agreement with Focus Press, recovery of the $6.1 million was possible.

"The department is in contact with the company," the spokesman said. "The company is aware of its obligations with respect to the Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund grant to create a print manufacturing and training centre in the Illawarra Region.

"Under the funding agreement, recovery of funds is an option."

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