Home' Forge : Vol 1 No 3 Contents 114
Small-business accreditation scheme is a game changer for an impressive South Australian municipality.
The City of Onkaparinga's bold
strategy to develop an innovative
economic ecosystem will boost small
business, attract investment and create
jobs in Adelaide's south.
Onkaparinga is fnalising plans to
launch a small-business accreditation
program as part of its exciting new ON
Business brand. The program, which
is the frst of its kind in Australia, is
potentially a model for other local
governments to follow.
The municipality wants thousands
of new and established businesses
in the area to achieve and maintain
accreditation, and access benefts
that help them lift proftability and
employment. Potential benefts include
discounted council rates, preferred
procurement status with council,
dedicated council support, and an
ability to collaborate across the network.
Onkaparinga is working hard to attract
a mix of local and foreign investment,
principally from China. It has signed
a sister-city agreement with Changli,
has memorandums of understanding
with the cities of Luzhou and Jinan,
and is forging strong business links in
Beijing and Shenzhen. Other Chinese
delegations are due to visit Onkaparinga
A Chinese-backed investment company,
Beijing Development Area, and other
foreign investors have expressed interest
in the $400 million redevelopment of
Onkaparinga's Noarlunga Regional
Centre. It will create a new hub of
entertainment, education, health,
mixed-use housing and commercial space,
and is Onkaparinga's largest project.
Onkaparinga Council CEO Mark Dowd
believes that both local and foreign
investors can capitalise on the region's
untapped potential in wine, tourism,
agribusiness, advanced manufacturing
and education. A larger tourism sector
and stronger population growth, as
more Asian students attend primary and
secondary schools and universities in
the area, are key goals.
'The extensive work we have done
over the past two years provides clear
evidence that Onkaparinga is at the
forefront of investment attraction
from a local government perspective
in Australia,' says Dowd. 'We are
responding quickly to opportunities,
and developing creative ways of
partnering with government and
private investors to bring projects to
fruition, and help both Onkaparinga
and South Australia.'
Onkaparinga's economic growth and
investment attraction strategy is focused
on job creation, and close alignment
with the city's resident-shaped
Community Plan 2035.
'We are determined to create more jobs,'
says Dowd. 'To do this, we must attract
start-up enterprises, help established
businesses grow, and encourage
medium-size companies to set up here.
And we need greater foreign investment
to drive new projects or develop existing
ones. Our strategy is based on providing
tangible benefts that help business and
investors from day one, and removing
any obstacles in their way. It's an
incredibly practical program.'
Dowd adds: 'This is a very exciting
time to be CEO of this great city.
I’m confdent that our approach is
setting the benchmark for investment
attraction in economic growth in a local
government context, which is something
we can all be proud of.'
Strong investment appeal
Onkaparinga is the heart of Adelaide's
south. One of the state's most diverse
cities, it has 31 kilometres of coastline,
the famed McLaren Vale wine region,
rural areas and metropolitan suburbs. A
short drive takes visitors from vineyards
to Adelaide's best beaches.
With 11 per cent of Adelaide's
population, Onkaparinga is regional
South Australia's largest metropolitan
area, and one of its fastest growing.
An estimated population of more than
160,000 is expected to grow by more
than 45,000 over 30 years. High housing
affordability, an enviable lifestyle,
and a solid local economy are driving
Onkaparinga benefts from strong
infrastructure. The recent rail
electrifcation and duplication of the
Southern Expressway will help the city's
manufacturing, agribusiness, tourism
and education industries, and the city's
future as a centre of economic activity.
Onkaparinga was also one of the frst
Australian cities to receive the National
Broadband Network rollout.
'We're lucky our city has a unique mix
of regional attractions, skills bases and
intellectual property, making us a unique
proposition in South Australia, nationally
and internationally,' says Dowd.
But like many regional Australian
cities, Onkaparinga faces rising
unemployment, especially among its
youth. The jobless rate, which was
8.44 per cent in the March 2015 quarter,
has risen since mid-2013, and is higher
than state and national averages.
An economy that relies heavily on small
businesses is another challenge. About
Job creation at the heart of
Onkaparinga's strategy to boost growth
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