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Call for gaol business partnership ideas

Serco transition director Peter McIntosh speaks to last week’s Grafton Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, about opportunities for local business partnerships with the new private gaol. Image: Josh McMahon.

“The sky is the limit” for commercial partnerships between local business and the new private Grafton Correctional Centre, a packed meeting of the Grafton Chamber of Commerce was told last week.

Representatives from gaol consortium Serco (operational), John Holland (construction), and Northern Pathways (government contract manager) made a 40-minute presentation to the chamber of commerce breakfast at the Clocktower Hotel on Tuesday.

Serco transition director Peter McIntosh said the new centre would have an extensive industries program, and expressions of interest from local businesses to form commercial agreements would be sought in the first half of next year. The first prisoner intake is expected in July 2020.

“The sky is the limit … we’re not ruling anything in or out at this point in time,” Mr McIntosh said.

He gave examples of potential opportunities in wood and metal manufacturing, laundries, handling and sorting, bakeries, textiles, food processing, assembly, and contact centres.

Northern Pathways representative Chris Cox added, “With industries we’re not out to compete – we want local businesses to work with us”.

The gaol operators would be required to substantiate any impact of a proposed industry in its approval process with NSW Corrective Services, according to Mr McIntosh.

Grafton Chamber of Commerce vice president, Justin James, said he believed the opportunities for local business partnerships with the new gaol were “very exciting”.

“Firstly, local businesses need to contact Northern Pathways to become registered with them. Then, they will need to make sure they can step up and meet what the gaol needs,” he said.

Mr James said smaller local businesses may like to form partnerships with each other to make a proposal. Interest can be registered through northernpathways.com.au

The chamber of commerce president said he was also involved in the current Grafton Correctional Centre’s community consultative committee. He said the current gaol’s current practice was to work with the local community and business, and he believed the new private facility would also do this.

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