Building The Lucky Country – are there any growth prospects for regional Australia?Leave a reply Looking over the horizon is crucial for business success. While some business forecasting is little more than fantasy, some people sometimes get it right. Futurist Faith Popcorn’s ‘cocooning’ for instance, pre-dated a revival of homey-ness in most developed countries. The Future Laboratory has in recent years focused on health and wellbeing technologies and applications and urban lifestyle enhancers – things that directly impact on quality of life.Once you start looking, there is wealth of great information out there which can help you as a business owner see ‘over the horizon’. It can be surprising how many structural and consumer preference drivers are well understood, with their impacts on business somewhat predictable (and predicted!). And it is even more surprising how much of this information is freely available to small business owners, even though it is expensive and usually commissioned by very large businesses indeed. We launched into this in the mid 2000s with the Small Business Futures workshops which brought the best of the ‘over the horizon’ forecasting and contextualised it to suit a small and regional business audience.Building the Lucky Country is a series of well-researched reports by Deloitte Access into fut
We have prepared economic and/or tourism strategies for many towns, Councils and regions across the country including Eurobodalla Council 2013, Cooma Monaro Shire 2013, Young Shire Council 2011, Bega Valley Shire 2010, RDA Southern Inland 2010 and many others. We have also worked together on retail and commercial vibrancy issues with Mudgee and Forster-Tuncurry.
We offer different approaches to economic strategic planning, tailored to suit the needs of each community. For some areas, like Young Shire, we combined economic profiling and analysis with extensive community consultation across the Shire as the basis for preparing a comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. In Cooma-Monaro we prepared a quantitative economic profile and situation analysis and then facilitated six strategic planning sessions of the Shire’s Economic Development Taskforce to prepare an Economic Development Strategy to put to Council. A similar process worked very well in Benalla, activating the newly established Economic and Tourism Advisory Committee and resulting in a detailed and achievable work plan for Council’s small economic development team. In Eurobodalla we prepared shire-wide and local socio-economic updates which were presented at open forums by Kim. Facilitated discussion in the forums led to local issues and responses – which were collated by Council into an update Economic Development Plan.
Our team’s leader, Kim Houghton, is currently working on economic strategy development with two shires in NSW, as well as working on community adaptability and resilience in the Murray Darling Basin. This latter project is a collaboration between three Universities and two specialist consultants, and combines social capital, demographics, economics, well-being and choice modelling. As a result of this work Kim has been appointed an Adjunct Associate Professor in Regional Development at the University of Canberra, and has a Visiting Fellowship in the Murray Darling Basin Futures Collaborative Research Network.
As a team of passionate advocates for action we enjoy working on implementing initiatives to capture economic opportunities and stimulate business growth – in addition to doing the research. For example we have completed dozens of small and medium business support facility and ‘business incubator’ feasibility studies across Australia and overseas. The most recent of these was our feasibility and business planning work for a pilot scale food processing facility in northeastern Tasmania. We have also gone well beyond studies, however, and in the early 2000s we won funding from the Federal Government and set up and ran a high technology business commercialisation facility (Epicorp) in the ACT which provided intensive business support and a substantial investment seed fund. Uni of Tassie, CSIRO and Defence.
Three waves of stakeholder evaluation telephone surveys (at around 4,000 contacts per wave) and over 20 focus groups for WorkCover NSW over 2010-12, with Jetty Research as our quantitative survey partner. Survey design took place in collaboration with WorkCover, and data collation, analysis and reporting was completed to a high standard.
Longitudinal Study on small businesses and workers compensation / OHS issues for WorkCover NSW. This three year study (in partnership with CREEDA Projects) used random telesurveys, telephone interviews and focus groups to better understand the factors motivating small businesses to engage and comply with workers compensation and OHS obligations.
In 2009, we prepard a comprehensive evaluation framework for the WorkCover NSW Three Year Small Business Plan activities. This work involved close collaboration with WorkCover staff to determine the use of existing data, potential for better use of WorkCover data, and the requirements of evaluation of activities. The Action Plan drew on these discussions and literature review to set out a carefully structured approach to assessing the effectiveness of the 3 Year Small Business Plan, using a mix of information from existing sources, targeted surveys, interviews and case studies. The Action Plan commented on the strengths and weaknesses of different evaluation tools and presented an ‘analysis map’ to guide WorkCover staff in running program-specific and group-wide evaluation activities.
In 2009 we also undertook an evaluation of WorkCover’s Small Business Forums program – using interviews with a mix of stakeholders including participants, WorkCover staff and Forum facilitators. The evaluation was undertaken 12 months into the Forums program and assessed the extent to which the Forums were meeting their stated aims.