Prime Meat Co, Harvey Cheese forced to repay Regional Economic Development grants

A struggling abattoir and a prominent cheese producer are among three WA businesses forced to pay back about $180,000 in regional development grants, after failing to fulfil their project promises.

Key points:

Three companies have repaid $180,000 in regional development grants, after failing to deliver project promisesRepayments have come from a prominent abattoir and dairy in the South West, and a proposed Pilbara coral farmWA’s Regional Development Minister says strict requirements are in place to protect taxpayer interests

Funded by the McGowan Government to the tune of $45 million over eight years, Regional Economic Development (RED) grants are handed out to eligible companies with a view to sustaining jobs, industry diversification, or increasing skills and productivity.

So far, more than $26.4 million has been awarded to 263 approved tourism, agriculture, and Aboriginal development projects across nine regions.

But three businesses have been forced to return just over $180,000.

Prime Meat Co leads the pack, with $100,000 of a $120,000 grant returned so far, while Harvey Cheese has paid back $62,000.

Backers of the Reef Ark Dampier Project, a proposed coral farm off the coast of Karratha, had $20,000 “in the process” of being returned, the government said.

Owned by Iranian businessman Mahmoud Parastesh, Prime Meat has operated abattoirs in Geraldton, Gin Gin in the Wheatbelt and Waroona in WA’s Peel region.

The owners of Prime Meats have been forced to pay back $100,000.(ABC Great Southern: Briana Fiore)

Its mothballed Waroona abattoir, formerly known as Clover Meats, received $120,000 in 2020.

The public money was meant to go towards upgrading its hot water system.

When the grant was awarded, the expected reopening of the dormant slaughterhouse was tipped to create 350 jobs at full capacity — almost a tenth of the shire’s population.

But the slaughterhouse never reopened.

According to a commercial property website, the 21.74 hectare abattoir,…

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