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June 2012 Newsletter

In This Issue:

Welcome From The Chair

Mal Peters, Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

After a long wait, the results of last year’s census are starting to trickle through and there are a few surprises for the Northern Inland. It must be remembered though that the census is a survey and results can’t always be taken as gospel.

Overall we’ve increased our regional population by around 3,000 residents to 176,400, a rise of nearly 2 percent. Population growth of between 4 and 5 percent was experienced in Tamworth and Gunnedah Shires with good growth also in Armidale, Inverell, Tenterfield Guyra and Uralla Shires. Some areas reported a decline including Moree Plains, Gwydir and Walcha Shires.

Further information including labour market data will be released in October and keep an eye out for a more detailed census analysis in our next newsletter.

Mal Peters, Chair

Identifying and Nurturing Businesses in Northern Inland NSW

Identifying and nurturing businesses with high growth potential is the objective of a new project being run by Regional Development Australia - Northern Inland (RDA-NI).

The Business Growth and Diversification project, which has been made possible with funding assistance from NSW Trade and Investment, will focus on the towns of Inverell, Gunnedah, Narrabri, Moree, Warialda and Wee Waa. These are local economies which could be negatively impacted by the loss of irrigation water under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

Experience in regional economic development has shown that small high-growth businesses are the engine room for job creation. While large city-based corporates are shedding jobs, there are a small number of local firms with the potential to defy that trend and help build more employment in our local economies.

In the United States, decades of regional economic development experience have shown that working with a targeted group of local businesses to nurture their development can be a more effective method of creating wealth and jobs than trying to convince big businesses from elsewhere to relocate to the bush.

Identifying businesses with high growth potential is the first stage of the project, and RDA-NI have engaged Andrew Murray of Keystone Consulting to assist with this task. Andrew is a successful businessman and entrepreneur with real-world business experience who has established a chain of fuel and food stores throughout the region.

Stage two of the project will involve working closely with a small number of those businesses to identify the specific factors which need to be addressed to allow for their business expansion. This could include accessing new markets, competitor analysis, marketing, financial analysis, legal and staffing issues.

The project will establish a template whereby trusted and experienced business mentors can help local firms realise their potential. Many business owners are so busy working ‘in’ their business that they lack the time to work ‘on’ their business. Our objective is to assist them to overcome this barrier and contribute to the economic development of our region at the same time.

Murray Darling Basin Plan Developments

In May, the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) made revisions to the Proposed Basin following feedback from public submissions.

The implications of these latest changes appear minimal for Northern Inland NSW. The MDBA is still seeking 2,750 GL of surface water to be returned to the environment across the entire Basin. There were some changes to groundwater extraction limits, but they are minor for our region.

The Plan still seeks 143 gigalitres (GL) of water from the Northern Basin for downstream environmental needs (i.e. flows in the Barwon-Darling system). It is likely the majority will have to come from the Namoi and Border Rivers catchments, since the connectivity of other Northern Basin catchments to the Barwon-Darling is low.

No more environmental water is required from the Gwydir catchment where 108 GL has already been purchased through buy-backs.

13 GL is also required in the Namoi and Border Rivers for the within-valley environment. So potentially, a total of 156 GL of water could be diverted from irrigation to the environment. This represents 20% of long term average use. Most of that use is for irrigated agriculture. Each GL used generates between 1 and 6 jobs in the local economy.

RDANI is working closely with local Water Working Groups to devise new ways of providing environmental water without the need for more water buy-backs.

Bak to Top

NSW State Budget Recognises the Needs in Regional NSW

NSW Budget

The 2012-13 Budget features significant investment to build critical infrastructure and improve essential services in regional NSW, with over $97.4 million allocated specifically to the Northern Inland.

The Northern Inland Region has been recognised with specific allocation for:

  • $49 million for improvements to the Newell Highway
  • $23.6 million for the development of the New England/North West Regional Cancer Centre
  • $17.7 million to begin work on the Stage 2 Redevelopment at Tamworth Hospital
  • $5.4 million to complete the Armidale Hospital Refurbishment
  • $1.7 million to complete the Narrabri Hospital Redevelopment
  • Upgrades to the Tamworth TAFE Campus

The following allocations have also been made for regional NSW:

  • $65 million will be invested in regional road safety initiatives around the State.
  • Public transport in regional NSW will be improved with funding of $825 million, including more than $376 million for the provision of bus services in the regions, $182 million for the Country Regional Network, $8.6 million to subsidise taxi transport for residents outside the Sydney region with severe and permanent disabilities, and a $2 million boost to the Community Transport Program.
  • Support for nurses, with $12.5 million spent on almost 200 extra nurses in regional NSW.
  • $12 million will be invested in regional tourism to acknowledge the importance of tourism to towns and regions around the State.
  • $44 million has been set aside for the Regional Industries Investment Fund to drive economic growth and create jobs in regional NSW.
  • 30% of Restart NSW, the capital fund established to build essential infrastructure, has been committed to regional NSW.
  • $13 million will be spent on compliance measures to support best practice regulatory regimes for the mining and petroleum industries in NSW, funded by a new administrative levy on the mineral and petroleum industries.
  • $70 million to the Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme.
  • An additional $30 million into the Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme to enable even more councils to pay for much needed upgrades and maintenance of infrastructure.
  • Local environments and communities will be strengthened with $71 million to manage pest animals and weeds as well as improve fire management in national parks, $100 million for the Catchment Management Authorities, $64 million for the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program, and $17 million for the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage program.

“In a difficult economic climate, this Budget takes responsible decisions to ensure a sustainable financial future for our State whilst continuing to invest in the infrastructure and services the people of regional NSW deserve,” Mr Stoner said.

Further information may be found on the NSW Budget website.

Help to Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Be it a result of wanting to reduce emissions or to reduce your power bill, many people have been looking to reduce their power consumption both at home and in their businesses. With yet another increase in electricity costs on the horizon, it is an issue at the forefront of most people’s thoughts. There are a range of assistance programs for both individuals and businesses:

Low income households and Concession Card Holders
The NSW Government is assisting eligible low income households through their Home Power Savings Program.

Each participant in the program will receive:

  • Home power assessment by an energy expert to identify ways to save power in the home
  • Power Savings Kit to help kick start savings
  • Personal Power Savings Action Plan.

Further details are available on the Save Power website.

There are two programs available from the NSW State Government for businesses based on the size of the business and the value of energy consumption:

  • Energy Efficiency for Small Business Program - Small Business (spends around $20,000 a year on electricity or employs up to about 10 people) can be eligible of 50% of installations for energy saving up to $5,000. Further details are available on the Save Power website.
  • Sustainable Advantage Program – This service is available to help medium to large organisations improve their environmental performance, reduce costs and add other value such as enhanced corporate reputation. Further details are available on the Save Power website.

Businesses may also be interested in the Northern Inland Sustainable Business Network (NISBN). Membership in this group provides hands-on, practical and local assistance to business in the Northern Inland region, as they embark on the sustainability challenge, to increase resource and energy efficiency. Further details are available on the NISBN website.

Premier’s NSW Export Awards

Premiers NSW Export Awards

Celebrating their 50th year, the Premier's NSW Export Awards is the longest running business awards program in Australia. This annual program aims to recognise excellence in the export of goods and services by NSW businesses. These awards acknowledge the important contribution of businesses to the economy through job creation and increased prosperity for their community, region and New South Wales.

There are a large number of categories, including regional exporter, small business and emerging exporter awards, allowing multiple opportunities for businesses to be recognised. Winners of the NSW awards will automatically proceed to the Australian Exporter’s Awards with national recognition.

Applications are currently open and will close on the 20th of August 2012. Winners and finalists are announced at a gala presentation at the Sydney Exhibition and Events Centre in Darling Harbour on Thursday 11th October 2012.

Further information on the awards, including eligibility criteria and application assistance, is available on the NSW Export Awards website.

Barraba Arts Festival

Over the past 38 years, this arts festival (previously known as Frost Over Barraba) has grown significantly and has become a well known and respected regional arts festival, showcasing the scope of creative talent in the New England North West region. This year it has expanded even further to become a community wide event.

The activities start on Thursday the 28th of June, with the preview night of the popular art exhibition in the RSL Memorial hall. This year the exhibition is expected to attract over 500 entries, with a prize pool of over $4,500.

Other events over the three days include:

  • Artists at Work - invited artists will be demonstrating their skills.
  • The Frost Youth Art Exhibition – The local children’s art to this year’s theme “together”.
  • The Frost Fair in the grounds of St Laurence’s Anglican Church will include stalls, morning teas and a lunchtime BBQ on the Saturday.
  • Rupert Richardson Exhibition & Quilt, Handcrafts and Pottery Exhibition
  • Manilla or Barraba Art Collective
  • The Namoi CMA Photographic Exhibition
  • Nandewar Historical Museum and
  • The Shed of Knowledge

Further information including programs is available on the Barraba Art Festival’s website.

Bingara Orange Festival

Bingara Orange Festival

The orange trees lining Finch Street and circling the Gwydir oval are a unique feature of Bingara. Planted as a living memorial to Bingara’s fallen in World Wars I and II, the trees and the annual harvesting of the fruit by the local school children (the orange police) happens on only one day of the year. The oranges have become a symbol of community pride that has attracted international interest.

This year’s Orange Festival will be held on Saturday June 30, and will be celebrated with amusement rides for all to enjoy, fairy floss, stalls, performances, competitions, activities for the kids, face painting and cup cake decorating. The ‘Sand Wizard’ will also be at the Festival so you can create sand art! Also, don’t forget to register your parade float and pick up an entry form for the Great Orange Cook Off.

Three secret judges will also be walking the streets all day to find the Orange Festival Busking Competition winner. So if you can sing, play an instrument, dance, juggle, breathe fire, or entertain a crowd in any way, be sure to get your entries in.

Further details, including festival programs, entry forms and the history of the festival, are available on the Bingara website.

Be Silly for a Serious Cause

Red Nose Day

Being silly never felt better than wearing a red nose this Friday the 29th of June to raise funds for SIDS and Kids. Celebrating their 25th annual red nose day, education initiatives such as the SIDS and Kids Safe Sleeping Program have saved the lives of an estimated 7,500 Australian babies. SIDS and Kids offer nation-wide free bereavement services to families who have experienced the death of a baby or child during pregnancy, birth, infancy and childhood regardless of the cause.

Funds raised from Red Nose Day go towards:

  • Free ongoing bereavement support and crisis outreach to families and the community following the sudden and unexpected death of a baby, infant or child 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Education to thousands of parents, carers and health professionals on how to reduce the risk of SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents through the world class, evidence based SIDS and Kids Safe Sleeping program.
  • Research into the causes and prevention of sudden and unexpected death of children during pregnancy, birth, infancy and childhood.

You can support Red Nose Day by purchasing red nose day items at retail partners or by making a donation online through the Red Nose Day website.

New Grants and Funding Opportunities

Energy Efficiency Information Grants - A merit-based grants program to assist industry associations and non-profits provide practical, tailored energy efficiency information to small and medium enterprises and community organisations.

Volunteer Grants 2012 - Eligible not-for-profit organisations can apply for funding to purchase small equipment items to assist volunteers and contribute towards reimbursement of fuel costs, transport costs incurred by volunteers with disability who are unable to drive, training courses and background screening checks for volunteers.

Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) Fellowships - Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) Fellowships aim to develop leadership, address priority regional development issues, and build partnerships and linkages between Australian organisations and partner organisations in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East.

Further information on grants, funding opportunities and tenders is available on the RDA-NI website, as well as through GrantsLINK and business.gov.au's Grants & Assistance Finder.

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