Outback Business Networks Meeting Inspires participants to Bring Business Back

“Inspiring” and “useful” were words used by participants to describe a meeting held last Friday to investigate ideas to bring back business to Outback towns across Australia.

Desert Knowledge Australia Outback Business Networks (OBN) hosted the special meeting titled Bringing Back Business: Creative Solutions for Developing Districts on Friday afternoon. The Cross Border Meeting linked sites and participants across five states using Webex video and communications technology provided by sponsor Telstra.

Almost 40 people attended, including 20 at the site in Alice Springs.
One of the participants said the meeting was useful in “inspiring confidence through others’ success.”

Another stated that the content brought to light “simple but successful ideas that are portable, that is, (they) can be modified to any location.”
The Cross Border Meeting featured four speakers who spoke about innovative and successful projects that are making a difference in communities and rejuvenating business and retail districts in towns and cities across Australia.

One of the presentations was by Marcus Westbury, who discussed Renew Australia (Renew Newcastle), an innovative strategy which was used to rebuild Newcastle in 2008. Since then more than 70 new businesses and initiatives have been seeded and the town was hailed by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit in 2011.
OBN member, Jason King, proprietor of Bell’s Milk Bar and Museum in Broken Hill, who is visiting Alice Springs this week, talked about the success of the Patton Village project to rejuvenate the town’s historic retail area.

Other presenters were Glen Wallace, Special Projects Program Manager, City Design, City of Sydney, who spoke on the Sydney Laneway Art project; and Gavin Flanagan from Tamworth Regional Council, who talked about the 40th anniversary of the Tamworth Country Music Festival. The Festival is now managed by Council and has grown from a three day festival into one of the largest festivals in the Southern Hemisphere and a major source of revenue for the region.
OBN Services Manager, Jeanette Wormald, said OBN was delighted by the participants’ feedback.

“This meeting was held in response to issues identified by our network members. Participants have told us that the demonstrations of other communities’ successes, the sharing of ideas and information and the learning opportunities from each other was very useful to them.”

“There is an opportunity now for local people to discuss the topic further on the desert knowledge Commons. Go to www.tiny.cc/bringingbackbusiness. Or they can ring 1800 603 866 if they want more information on the presentations shown,” she said.

OBN works to strengthen the economy in regional areas by increasing business, expanding markets, generating cost savings and providing access to information and services for small and medium enterprises.
The Network connects business across nine regions of Outback Australia including: Barkly, Central Australia, Central West Queensland, Far North South Australia, Far West New South Wales, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Mid West Gascoyne, North West Queensland and the Pilbara. The Australian Government through Enterprise Connect and the Aboriginals Benefit Account, BHP Billiton, the NT Government, Telstra, and Qantas have combined with a wide range of regional partners to support the project.