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March 2017 Newsletter

In this Issue:

Welcome from the Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Welcome to another edition of our monthly newsletter. Our Go Digital Workshops have now kicked off right across the region, so don’t forget to reserve your spot or sign-up to the online content.

This month also marks the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of New England for the Agribusiness Careers and Professions (AGCAP) Program. This is fantastic news for local AGCAP students who wish to undertake an agriculture-related degree, with the UNE contributing to the costs for their course. AGCAP is all about offering opportunities for our youngest and brightest to remain in the region to pursue their career – a very worthy and important cause.

See you next month.


Russell Stewart

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Go Digital with Free Workshops and Training

Regional Development Australia Northern Inland is committed to encouraging growth in the region. Through the Go Digital project businesses will be provided with additional skills to grow their business and / or create alternative opportunities in a changing marketplace.

Go-Digital is a short course to introduce business owners to trading online. The free course will involve face to face workshops around the region, online materials, Q&A sessions held by Webinar / teleconference, and ongoing support throughout the six-month period. Materials will be provided in a modular format and participants will have the freedom to select the sections they require, or go through all of the content.

The course will walk people through step-by-step video instructions on elements of trading online such as building a simple website, or how to outsource this, how to use social media to attract customers, how to use Etsy, and how to photograph products.

The end-goal will be to provide businesses with the knowledge and ability to sell their goods and services online through a fully-functioning and easy-to-use e-commerce website.

Workshops have already been held in several towns around the Northern Inland region over the last month. Still to come are:

Monday 3rd of April, 5:30 to 7:00pm
Tony Caine Room, Quirindi RSL Club

Tuesday 4th of April, 5:30 to 7:00pm
UNE Access Centre

Thursday 6th of April, 7:45 to 9:00am
Uralla Community Centre
Short breakfast before 1 hour presentation

Tuesday 11th of April, 5:00 to 6:00pm
Narrabri Community College

Wednesday 12th of April, 5:30 to 7:00pm
Gunnedah Community College

All workshops are free!

RSVP for the workshops to Tiffany on tgilleland@rdani.org.au

Don’t worry if you missed your workshop, you can continue the course online even if you are unable to attend the face-to-face workshop. Go to www.gdni.com.au for more information.

Go Digital is funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Programme.

UNE Commitment to Ag-Careers Welcomed

Narrabri’s Russell Stewart and the University of New England’s Vice-Chancellor and CEO Professor Annabelle Duncan have signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in relation to the AgriBusiness Careers and Professions (AGCAP) program. “AGCAP is making a real difference to young lives and to the agribusiness sector in Northern Inland NSW. It is growing and all involved welcome the formalisation of UNE’s support and place in the program,” he said.

Professor Duncan said the AGCAP program is in line with UNE’s priorities. “It’s important for us to not say to a student ‘this is how we do it, you fit with us’, rather ‘how do you need to be educated? What can we do to help you get the skills and qualifications that you need?” she said. “AGCAP students remain in their community while they study, then work and live in their community after graduation. They are tomorrow’s community leaders.”

UNE’s support includes covering costs for AGCAP participants who choose to attend the university and undertake a related degree. The AGCAP program sees participants complete a Certificate III in Agriculture and do one (paid) day of work per week within a partner agribusiness, while completing high school. The skills they gain along the way are formally recognised. The program gives rural and regional students an efficient pathway that they can take as far as they wish. After school, they can complete a Cert. IV or Advanced Diploma at AGCAP Partner Tocal Agricultural College and onto AGCAP Partner the University of New England. Previous courses undertaken by AGCAP students means they can take just two years to complete a bachelor degree in AgriFood Systems or a closely related degree.

AGCAP began in Narrabri, when ‘Make It Work Foundation’ volunteers sought to develop a program that would help address the agribusiness labour needs of the region and reduce the flow of quality young people to the major cities. “AGCAP provides a head start on an agribusiness career and education pathway. We are getting young people engaged with the industry and practical training earlier and it is working,” Mr. Stewart said.

“We will see AGCAP fast-track locals into a UNE degree who probably would not have considered going to university. They will be able to work while they study and have they UNE time covered. What an opportunity!”

A long-time AGCAP supporter, Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) received a $25,000 grant towards AGCAP participation growth, from the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Programme. Now completed, the project produced promotional resources and saw many schools visited.

“AGCAP is a homegrown initiative and RDANI is proud to help get the message out,” said RDANI Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson. “Our Project Officer, Gary Fry, met with many of the passionate and professional high school agriculture teachers and careers advisors around the region. It is fantastic to see the drive that those individuals and the broader Education Department has to put students first, as demonstrated through supporting innovative approaches like the AGCAP program.”

Funding for Regional Environment and Tourism Attractions

Food and wine regions, walks through national parks and heritage buildings are among the great regional tourist attractions that are set to benefit from the NSW Government’s new $300 million Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund.  Regional communities are being urged to submit expressions of interest for funding for environmental and tourism infrastructure projects to help grow and diversify local economies from the initial round of $100 million.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, said the Fund is an exciting initiative, which will help to increase tourist numbers, drive job creation and build on other NSW Government regional investment programs. “The $300 million in NSW Government funding, if combined with other government and private sector contributions, will protect and enhance our precious environmental assets and build new tourism attractions across regional NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Adam Marshall, said it’s a demonstration of the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to rural and regional tourism. “The State’s rural and regional tourism industry is now welcoming 17 per cent more overnight visitors than in 2011 and I am looking forward to promoting its continued growth in the years to come.”

Expression of Interest applications are currently open and close on the 6th of April. Find out more on the Department of Industry’s website here.

Smart Region Incubator Launched at UNE

About 130 people, a cross-section of “town and gown”, attended the opening of the new UNE SMART Region Incubator in the UNE Business School earlier this month where Tech entrepreneur (and homesick Delungra farm boy) Simon Blyth gave a demonstration of the Incubator’s connectivity by speaking to the audience live via Skype from Sydney.

Funded as part of the NSW Government’s $12 million Building Business Innovation Program, UNE received $1 million which will enable startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to make connections internationally as part of a regional innovation ecosystem. The university will provide an analytical platform for SMEs and entrepreneurs to access the latest research data generated by the UNE SMART Farm and Centre for Agribusiness, to help accelerate and commercialise new business models.

Part of the incubator’s development has been a full refit of a section of the UNE Business School, to provide offices and shared spaces that support information exchange and creativity among startups working in the facility.

Discover more on their website, smartri.com.au

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Are You Looking to Start or Grow Your Exports?

Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science present this exciting free half-day workshop in Tamworth on the 5th of April for food and beverage manufacturers who are:

  • New to exporting
  • Currently exporting and seeking a refresh on the fundamentals

The workshop will cover

  • How to view Export as part of your broader growth strategy?
  • Where to enter? Market prioritisation
  • Who is your target consumer?
  • How do you plan to position your brand(s) and products?
  • Which channels & customers should I target
  • What are the Market entry model options?

This practical and interactive workshop delivered by Xpotential teaches you all the things you need to consider before entering a new export market. Plus you will develop your very own Export Plan tailored to your business!

Register for the workshop on the NSW Department of Industry’s website here.

$27m Agriculture Education Building Opened at UNE

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Honourable Barnaby Joyce MP, officially opened the state-of-the-art Agriculture Education Building (AEB) at the University of New England this month. The opening of the AEB marks the completion of the fifth and final phase of the $46 million Integrated Agriculture Education Project (IAEP) – one of UNE’s biggest and most comprehensive infrastructure projects to date.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Annabelle Duncan believes that the building provides a vibrant precinct where education, training and research will flourish.

“The new facilities of the AEB allow us to take the lead when it comes to training the next generation of agricultural and environmental scientists. Job advertisements for skilled agricultural professionals are currently outstripping applications. Now is the time to train graduates with the required qualities to address those shortfalls,” Prof. Duncan said.

In his address before opening the building, Mr Joyce observed that agriculture is more important than ever for global food and fibre security and for the Australian economy, and that Armidale and UNE is playing a huge role in these areas.

“More young Australians are seizing the opportunity to study agriculture and agriculture-related disciplines here at UNE, and soon they will be able to extend their careers right here with the relocation of the APVMA and the ongoing development of this Agricultural Centre of Excellence,” Mr Joyce said.

The building also houses the region’s first Natural History Museum with the skeleton of a carnivorous dinosaur from Lightning Ridge, as well as a diverse collection of animals, plants, and minerals on display.
The AEB cost just over $27 million to build and is a joint funding initiative between Government through its Education Investment Fund, CSIRO and UNE.

Caffe Gusto is Farming the Sun

Z-NET Uralla, one of Farming the Sun's community partners, has worked with Caffé Gusto to assess the benefits of adding a 10 kW solar power system.

Z-NET Uralla is working with local businesses to benchmark their energy use as part of “Destination Uralla” ~ a project funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program.

“It’s not until you know how much energy you are using, and what is using it, that you out can work out how to reduce costs, and investigate the business case for solar” said Z-NET Uralla Coordinator, Steve Griffith. “It has been a real eye-opener for our businesses to see how much energy the coffee machine or a particular refrigerator is using, and when their peak energy use occurs.”

Caffé Gusto will be Uralla’s first solar powered café. It was inspired by Ross and Kim Burnet’s desire to have control over their energy costs as well as making their contribution to a sustainable climate in the future by reducing carbon emissions.

“We have been looking at ways to reduce business costs and electricity is a big one for a café. Having the Z-NET Uralla project in our town started us thinking that solar power could be a win-win,” advised Ross Burnet. “Kim does most of her bread and cake baking during the day so we will be able to make the most of daytime solar energy production, and peak coffee time is mid-morning to lunch time, just when the sun is kicking in with its energy.”

Read more about Destination Uralla on Z-Net’s website, www.zneturalla.org.au/index.php/whatwedo/businesses

Farming the Sun are excited to report that the 3rd solar power bulk-buy block has now opened. This also marks a significant milestone for the program, they have now passed the one-third mark of achieving their goal of installing 1MW of high quality solar power throughout the region. They are also pleased to advise that the bulk-buy discounts for the third block are still up to 33% below recommended retail and that they have expanded the region for the bulk-buy so it is now open to residents, businesses, and farms across the Northern Inland region. Find out more on their website, www.farmingthesun.net/bulk-buys/

Free Business Advice

Business Connect (formerly Small Biz Connect) is a personalised business advisory service, funded by the NSW Government, that supports small-to-medium businesses start or grow their business successfully. With a network of local advisors available across NSW, Business Connect provides the advice, skills and information you need at any stage of your business.

These services are provided locally by NORTEC Small Business Solutions. If you have any questions:

Grants and Funding Opportunities

Bridges for Renewal Program
Round Three Applications close 15th of May 2017

The Australian Government has committed $360 million over five years to 2019-20 to the Bridges Renewal Programme. The Programme upgrades and repairs bridges to enhance access for local communities and facilitate higher productivity vehicle access. Round Three is open to state, territory and local governments.
The Australian Government will contribute up to 50 per cent of the total project cost to successful projects. Projects are selected through a competitive, merit-based process. Find out more on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s website: http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/funding/bridgesrenewal/index.aspx

Accelerating Commercialisation
Applications are ongoing

Accelerating Commercialisation is run by AusIndustry and encourages and assists small and medium businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers to commercialise novel products, processes and services. It works by providing you with expert guidance and connections through Commercialisation Advisers to help you to find the right commercialisation solutions for your novel product, process or service. Accelerating Commercialisation may also offer matched funding to support your commercialisation activities.

Accelerating Commercialisation comprises the following activities:

  • Commercialisation Guidance
  • Accelerating Commercialisation Grant
  • Portfolio Services.

Generally, you should seek Commercialisation Guidance first, and then apply for either an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant (for which you will also receive Portfolio Services) or for Portfolio Services alone. Accelerating Commercialisation Grant uses a competitive open merit-based selection process, while Portfolio Services uses a non-competitive open merit-based selection process.

Find out more at www.business.gov.au/assistance/accelerating-commercialisation

Waste Less Recycle More
Applications are ongoing

Waste Less, Recycle More provides $35 million to help NSW businesses reduce waste and boost recycling.  Four key programs provide funding to support businesses through advice, networking, and equipment that will make it easier to recycle rather than landfill:

Environmental Education grants
EOI’s for 2017 close: 10th of April 2017

The aim of the Environmental Education Grants Program is to support educational projects or programs that develop or widen the community's knowledge of, skills in, and commitment to, protecting the environment and promoting sustainable behaviour. The objectives of the program are to:

  • facilitate changes in behaviour of individuals and groups which affect specific environmental problems
  • develop and promote education projects that improve the environment.

Grants of between $10,000 and $100,000 are available. The program offers the following grant funding annually:

  • $500,000 to the community program
  • $500,000 to the state and local government program.

Full details are on the Office of Environment and Heritage website. www.environment.nsw.gov.au/grants/education.htm

What’s On in the Northern Inland

Uralla Rotary 40th Annual Art Exhibition
Saturday 25th of March to Sunday 2nd of April

Carnivale Armidale
Saturday 1st of April

Gunnedah Country Music Muster
Saturday 1st of April

Inverell Medieval Festival
Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd of April

Quilt and Patchwork Exhibition
Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd of April 2017

Copeton Freshwater Swim
Saturday 8th of April
Copeton Dam, between Warialda and Inverell)

Quota Markets and 2017 Pet Show
Saturday 8th of April

Southern Downs Steam Railway
Saturday 8th to Sunday 9th of April

Youth Week Marvel Movie Marathon
Sunday 9th of April

Nundle Go For Gold Festival
Saturday 15th to Sunday 16th of April

Tamworth Heritage Festival
Saturday 15th to Saturday 29th of April
Tamworth, Gunnedah, Nundle, Werris Creek and Loomberah

Carp We Don’t Keepit Fishing Competition
Sunday 16th of April
Lake Keepit, between Tamworth and Gunnedah

Tour De Rocks Ride for Cancer
Thursday 20th of April
Departs from Armidale

All Breeds Championship & Companion Cat Show
Saturday 22nd of April

Baan Baa Family Fun Day
Sunday 23rd of April
Baan Baa

Willow Tree Dog Trilas
Thursday 27th of April
Willow Tree

Boggabri Art and Craft Exhibition
Tuesday 25th to Sunday 30th of April

Boggabri Drovers Campfire
Friday 28th to Sunday 30th of April

Tamworth Taste Festival
Friday 29th of April to Sunday 7th of May

Magpie Bike Fest
Friday 28th to Sunday 30th of April

Ebor Art Exhibition
Sunday 30th of April

Australian Celtic Festival
Thursday 4th to Sunday 7th of May
Glen Innes

Carnivale Armidale
Saturday 1st of April

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