Welcome to 2016.
After what was a very busy 2015 that saw us commence work on several new economic development projects, we look forward to further progressing these initiatives over the next twelve months.
This year will see us continue to work with businesses and Councils in our region who are looking to attract investment to fund growth plans or new infrastructure. We are planning an out bound delegation to Shanghai in April where businesses will have the opportunity to pitch investment opportunities to pre-qualified investors.
Work on an electric vehicle highway connecting Kangaroo Island, Normanville, Yankalilla, Victor Harbor, Alexandrina, Strathalbyn and Mount Barker will continue along with a proposed corridor along South Road to Adelaide will continue.
The opportunities presented to the region through the growth of retirees moving into region will be explored.
The role out of the NBN in the region continues and we will work with businesses to ensure they have the capability to take full advantage of the opportunities this brings.
We will continue to work with the Southern and Hills Local Government Association to work on a regional infrastructure plan.
As well as all this, we will be launching the updated Regional Road Map in June. This will determine our planning and strategic direction for the next three years and provide detailed information on the regions opportunities and challenges.
I look forward to working with the refreshed Board and staff over 2016 to grow our regional capability and capacity to ensure opportunities exist for business growth and jobs.
Chief Executive Officer
2015 has been an exciting and rewarding time for RDAHC and for our region.
We signed a memorandum of understanding in Mount Barker on Monday, 23rd of February, paving the way for a formal agreement, expected to be signed in Shanghai in May 2015. The relationship has been five years in the making and follows a visit by RDA Adelaide Hills, FL & KI Chairperson, Ann Ferguson to China in 2010. The SMEC's representative Robert Cai then hosted a business delegation to SA, meeting with state government representatives. Our region is in need of capital to help businesses establish and expand and this agreement will pave the way for Chinese investment in our region. RDAHC's focus is to identify and prepare private & public investment opportunities to the region. We have developed a tool kit which takes Businesses through the process of all the things they have to do to be investment ready and we are in the final stages of preparing the toolkit for distribution.
Following successful Skills for Jobs in Regions funding applications through the Department of State Development, the RDA, AS Grantee, are conducting 3 projects across the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu, comprising Career Services, Employment Assist (primarily mature aged) and a Youth project. The RDA Employment and Training Managers are conducting the youth focussed project across the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu to address the high youth unemployment levels.
The Youth2Work project targets young people between the ages of 17 and 24 who are unemployed or underemployed and will be conducted until end of November, 2015.
The aim of the project is to offer support with skills and training enabling the transition to work by providing assistance through mentoring, case management and training opportunities including licences, tickets including Forklift, Whitecard, Workzone traffic management and Barista.
Since the commencement of the project in late January, the project has successfully engaged more than 30 participants with approximately half achieving employment outcomes.
The Value Chain Program for SME workshops are wrapping up across the region with some good feedback from participating businesses. These workshops were delivered by the University of Adelaide and worked with businesses owners to develop a better understanding of the importance of innovation in today’s businesses environment and working better in the businesses value chain to improve innovation, efficiency, supply, potential product identification and businesses relationships. Valuable aspects of the course were cited as:
making us think outside the square and to see who is involved in our business
meeting other business owners and learning about how to refer to value and supply chains
Ideas in different ways of distribution and dealing with customers
Further workshops are planned around looking at Growing Sales and Identifying New Markets, Marketing & Pricing and Promotion & Distribution Strategies. These will be rolled out across the region over the next few months.
The RDA is planning a Regional Conference for the 10th June 2015 titled “Taking Stock 2015 – SME Sustainability Conference” with Rob Kerin as the Key Note Speaker. Other Speakers will include David Basham President, SA Dairy Farmers’ Association, Sean Keenihan President, South Australia Branch, Australia China Business Council and David McKay CFO from Thomas Foods to name a few.
Booking will be available soon for this conference via the RDA website’s Events page.
The Connected Trails Project is a new project funded through PIRSA’s Regional Food Initiatives Fund and seeks to develop better coordination, collaboration and partnerships across our region between food wine and tourism bodies. This will be achieved by bringing these parties together, developing a better understanding of what is around within the region and with neighbouring regions in Food Wine and Tourism, connecting and linking current food and wine trails and identifying gaps for new opportunities. This will be communicated to the tourist via a landing platform/portal that then directs the tourist through to these organisations in a way that is user friendly to plan and then undertake their trip through the region. We want to avoid duplication and confusion for the tourist and to utilise our regional resources more efficiently in this area.
The project has pulled together the Food Wine and Tourism associations from across the region and local Councils to work on this initiative. The first task being undertaken is collection of information on all the current websites, projects, organisations and tourist trails across the Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu / McLaren Vale, Kangaroo Island and look at how these can link within our region and to our neighbours like Barossa and Murraylands/Riverland. Gap and Opportunity analysis will also be performed.
Damien Cooke (CEO)
The last two months have been one of our busiest times. We have just returned from our first exploratory trip to China and realised there are many opportunities, providing we prepare our cases for investment in a comprehensive and professional manner.
The purpose of our trip was to gain a better understanding of the investor and investment dynamics in China and to reinforce links with key partners. The trip was successful and identified opportunities and helped us to refine our propositions. In particular we met with large international immigration agents, an investment bank, commercial lawyer, international education agent, chamber of commerce Austrade as well as individual businesses.
We have contacted lawyers in China who will be writing us a report informing us on the legal and commercial aspects related to doing business in China.
Meanwhile back at our office in Strathalbyn, the Sustainable Growth for Food and Wine projects continued to work across the region with current focus and progress on looking at the value chain across the apple and broader fruit industry in the Adelaide Hills as well as an education program to show businesses how they can innovate through their supply chain. The main blockers and enablers for the fruit industry have been identified and range from difficulties with wages and water to great quality fruit and skills and knowledge across the industry. Further work will be done in the New Year.
To finalise the Sustainable Growth in Food and Wine project due to complete mid next year a regional conference will be held in early June that will share some of the learnings from the project, look at where our regional opportunities are for the food and wine sector as well as provide some great regional success stories that we can all learn from. Program items and speakers are currently being identified for this event.
A new project that will get underway in 2015 is the Connected Food and Wine trails project that will bring together our LGA and industry associations over wine, food and tourism to look at how we can connect up our current trails and have a collaborative approach to tourism across the region. This should stimulate some exciting opportunities over the next 12 months.
We also successfully completed the High Speed Broadband Project (formally called as NBN Digital Enterprise Project) and the final report was submitted on 30th November 2014 to the Department of Communication.
The program was delivered over a two year period and consisted of 27 group training sessions and 140 one-on-one sessions with SMEs and NFPs. At the completion of the program nearly 173 SMEs and NFPs were presented within the frame work. The program was a huge success and was extremely popular among the enterprises and we have received very positive feedback. The most valuable achievement of this project was the 4 hours of individual client mentoring for all participants that included the completion of a digital audit and diagnostic report plus post program individual mentoring advice and support.
The last year has been both challenging in its uncertainty, yet productive in that we have been able to lay out a clear strategy for our region for the future.
Our offices will close at 12pm on 24th December 2014 and will reopen on 5th January 2015. We look forward to making a real difference in our region in 2015.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Damien Cooke (CEO)
Our offices in Strathalbyn and Victor Harbor are always a hive of activity and the past two months have been no exception. We have been working hard, taking advantage of every opportunity to develop and grow the ‘Hills & Coasts” region.
Our Employment and Training Managers have been developing funding applications for some exciting new projects under the Skills for Jobs in Regions through the Department of State Development. The applications have focused on Mature Aged, Career Development and particularly on Youth because of the growing unemployment in the Fleurieu region.
The Sustainable Growth in Food and Wine project has been gaining momentum after the initial research and discussion papers were completed. Industry Cluster mapping around the fruit industry with Lenswood Coop is now underway. This will outline the breadth of the fruit industry across the Adelaide Hills showing who the leaders are, where the issues and opportunities lie and the depth of relationships within the industry identifying ways for the industry to operate more effectively and support growth and innovation.
We are in the process of engaging a consultant, Dr. Fiona Kerr from the University of Adelaide to undertake Value Chain Analysis with Lenswood Coop as part of the broader cluster mapping exercise. Dr. Kerr has been working with the Economic Development Board on a single Value Chain Analysis tool for the South Australian Government to get consistency in Value Chain work in SA. Working with Dr. Kerr will bring this tool to our region and develop this capability within our RDA.
Export development is proving to be an issue with our many small and micro businesses. Information/knowledge, capability and capacity are the barriers identified. Part of the strategy to address this will be the roll out of workshops around exporting to develop capability and provide information for business owners. Another series of workshops on Value Chain are also being rolled out for our businesses to ensure this knowledge is also shared with the region. These commence in November and will work with the participating businesses to understand and then analyse their individual value chains supported by the University of Adelaide’s Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre.