Financial year full of innovation and initiatives

FY18/19 was a busy year for regional development in the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region.

Regional Development Australia Mackay Isaac Whitsunday (RDAMIW) CEO Robert Cocco accredited much of the progress in the region to a focus on stakeholder relationships.

“We’ve had several notable successes this year, and much of this can be attributed to the organisation’s focus on collaboration,” Mr Cocco said.

“By cultivating and improving relationships with our partners, this gave us the knowledge needed to advocate to the government on behalf of the region.”

RDAMIW’s role is to provide advice and submissions to Federal Government across a range of issues, including regional insurance matters, de-centralisation, education and Remote Area Tax Reform.

“We see network-building as an essential part of economic development. This year, we contributed to several large-scale initiatives, in concert with key stakeholders, to encourage collaboration and skill-sharing among local businesses and thought-leaders.”

He emphasised the importance of collaboration in preparing our workforces for the inevitable changes caused by new technology, highlighting the following initiatives as examples of the region’s commitment to innovation and modernisation.

  • Business Beacon, an online platform designed to promote business events, encouraging cross-organisational learning.

  • Regional Skill Investment Strategy (RSIS), an initiative to identify emerging jobs in key industries, and ensure that there is a supply of skilled local people to meet the demand

  • Economic Development Network (EDN), a group established to share best practice and information about regional ED strategy, activity and outcomes.

  • Future Workforce Summit, a project looking at future regional employment opportunities, and providing a regional digital infrastructure gap analysis study.

This focus on information-gathering, education and future-proofing was also extended to the primary industries.

“We have supported several initiatives to improve understanding of the operations and capabilities of our existing industries, as well as exploring potential new avenues for investment.

“We hope to improve the efficiency of our methods, bringing them up to date with best practice, while being mindful of the increasing responsibility to operate sustainably.”

Projects included:

  • Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Export Study, analysing the supply chain and mapping capabilities in order to produce a METS Export Strategy and Implementation plan

  • Mapping Agribusiness Export Study, a study designed to understand the MIW region’s export arrangements, numbers and operations.

  • Future Farming Institute and Agricultural Tech Hub, a regional research and teaching centre designed to drive the modernisation of regional farming practices, in collaboration with farmers, researchers and agribusiness entities. Concept development has commenced, and will continue into next FY.

  • Biofutures Project, an initiative to identify opportunities and scope the necessary infrastructure for the emerging biofutures industry, a sector focused on developing products from sustainable organic resources produced in farming.

Transport infrastructure was another focal point during FY 2019.

“RDAMIW and our stakeholders managed to release almost $1.5B in funding from the Federal Government for improvements to roads and bridges, through the Inland Queensland Roads Actions Project.

“We also completed the Freight Optimisation Project, which helped identify critical freight infrastructure and activity with the goal of making the transport of freight more efficient.”

Funding for social projects that helped drive economic development were also a focus of RDAMIW’s support.

“In total, this year we assisted our partners in securing more than $19.2 million for projects in sports infrastructure, social studies, marine infrastructure, education infrastructure, green space and amenity infrastructure, public health infrastructure and emergency services infrastructure.

“This investment will help strengthen the region’s physical, environmental and social wellbeing for future generations.

“As we move into the 2019/20 Financial Year, we hope to continue building on these achievements, working together with our stakeholders to develop a strong, thriving region.”

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