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Uniting Councils on Economic Development

Our Local Councils face many barriers as they work to foster economic growth, but they are not working in isolation. To highlight this, last month we ran our inaugural Economic Development forum in Gunnedah, which brought several economic development specialists together from Local Councils around the region. The workshop was attended by Economic Development Managers from Gunnedah, Glen Innes, Moree Plains, Liverpool Plains and Armidale Regional Councils and AusIndustry. The participants found the forum extremely worthwhile, and the group decided to run the workshops quarterly. The feedback received highlighted that this is the start of something that will be positive for the region.

The workshops aim to facilitate the exchange of information on our latest projects, grant and funding opportunities, as well as discuss best practice and the barriers to economic development efforts in our Local Councils. Council representatives were also keen to discuss successful projects that may work elsewhere, as well as joint projects. Our Local Government Areas are interconnected, and a big-picture regional approach can provide a benefit to our region as a whole. The forum facilitated collaboration, partnerships and efficiencies across Council boundaries which the Federal and State Governments are supportive of, which in turn provides greater funding opportunities. With many councils being required to provide more infrastructure and services on limited funds, although economic development staff may know how to drive economic growth within their communities, they often face financial restraints, and rely on ad-hoc project grants.

Over the past 18 months we have contributed to the attraction of over $30 million in funding to this region by assisting most Northern Inland Councils with the business cases, cost-benefit analyses and economic data for grant applications. At the forum we provided insights in Government programs and grant funding opportunities that are available to our Local Councils and made them aware of how they can use our services to better their prospects for projects that can benefit their respective communities. We also outlined job growth stimulating private sector grants.

All economic development managers from the twelve Local Government Areas that make up the Northern Inland are invited to the forums, with the next one to be held early next year. For further information, contact our office at rdani@rdani.org.au or on 6771 0700.

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