Home' Forge : Vol 1 No 3 Contents 115
90 per cent of businesses in Onkaparinga
have four or fewer employees, Australian
Bureau of Statistics data shows. Fewer
than 10 per cent of businesses employ
between fve and 19 employees –
something that the council intends to
change through a strategy that will
attract more mid-size businesses.
Onkaparinga is taking a pragmatic and
strategic view of its economic issues.
'We recognise that the challenges facing
our region and the state are very real,'
says Dowd. 'However, we refuse to
have a negative mindset, and we remain
very optimistic and confdent about our
offering as a city.'
A city full of opportunity
Onkaparinga has attracted almost
$3 billion worth of major projects in
the past seven years. They include the
Adelaide Desalination Plant, Seaford Rail
Extension and Electrifcation, Southern
Expressway Duplication, Water Proofng
the South series of projects, and the
recently announced $50 million expansion
of Colonnades Shopping Centre.
The Noarlunga Regional Centre
revitalisation project and Southern
Sporting Complex are major new
investment opportunities in South
Australia. Onkaparinga Council wants
Noarlunga to have high-storey, multi-
use buildings that provide offce, retail,
residential and recreation offerings.
It also wants to build on the strengths
of Noarlunga – namely, the availability
of existing services and amenities,
including Noarlunga Hospital, library,
aquatic centre, education facilities
and the South Adelaide Football Club.
'Our vision is that Noarlunga Regional
Centre will set the standard for regional
development,' says Dowd.
Foreign investors are also showing
interest in the proposed $30 million
Southern Sporting Complex, a facility
that will further enhance the Noarlunga
In tourism, a signifcant accommodation
and conference facility development
in McLaren Vale is under discussion as
Onkaparinga delivers on its strategy
to position Adelaide's south as a major
tourist destination, and McLaren Vale as
one of the state's great wine regions, in
addition to the Barossa Valley.
'The market and investors are certainly
telling us we are on the right track with
our priorities and project ideas, and the
state government is very supportive
of the work we are doing,' says Dowd.
'We will work hard to open doors and
make connections, both for our local
businesses and ourselves, showcasing
opportunities for investment and trade,
then stepping back to let the business
transactions happen, acting in a
An energised small business sector
Facilitation is a key theme of
Onkaparinga's proposed small business
accreditation scheme, which Council
describes as a 'game changer ' for its
economy. Onkaparinga is developing
a business portal to drive business and
industry collaboration, and encourage
clustering around food and wine, media
and technology, online education, assistive
health and specialist manufacturing.
Accredited small businesses will
use the portal to connect with others
in the region, source new work, or
develop ideas and new enterprises.
A marketing campaign will identify
accredited businesses, and encourage
the community to support them.
'The program is about helping small
businesses to grow and employ more
staff,' says Dowd. 'Council is working
with small enterprises, and giving
them more say in what we can do
to help them lift their cash flow and
profitability. The feedback so far is
Dowd believes that the accreditation
program, and the network that
develops, will drive innovation,
collaboration and smart clusters across
Onkaparinga. 'It's not enough to
help existing businesses; we have to
encourage the formation of start-up
ventures that can use digital technology
and broadband to innovate, that have
global ambitions, and that can grow
rapidly in new industries.'
An energised council
As Onkaparinga encourages its small-
business sector to have a go, its Council
is taking calculated risks. A council-led
pop-up shop that promoted the area
attracted thousands of visitors to a
struggling retail precinct. Although the
shop was small in the scheme of things,
it showed the council's willingness to
make things happen for retailers.
'We are trying more ideas and assessing
what works,' says Dowd. 'The last thing
we will do is create a static economic
development strategy that does not
respond to emerging opportunities or
changing business conditions. If the
council wants industry in the region to
be more nimble and innovative, we
have to set the example with the
businesses we help, and with our
growing number of investment partners
locally and in Asia.'
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