Old Cooroy Saw Mill site could soon be buzzing with new business
  • Thursday 27 May 2010

The old Cooroy Saw Mill site could soon be buzzing with new business activity if business and broader community demand is established for a new Business Incubator facility to be housed on Lot five of the Lower Mill site.

As part of the Sunshine Coast Council’s commitment to economic development, council in partnership with the Cooroy Lower Mill Board, has engaged a team of specialist consultants boasting local, national and global experience to assess potential demand and infrastructure requirements for business incubator services in the north of the region.

The consultants will be based at Cooroy and meet with members of the local community over the coming weeks.

In announcing the commencement of the demand study, local Division 12 Councillor and chair of economic development and council entrepreneurship, Cr Lew Brennan explained how business incubators worked.

“The role of a business incubator is to nurture new and emerging businesses by providing the support and services required to enable them to become established, productive and profitable,” Cr Brennan said.

“Services typically include access to business and strategic planning, mentoring, advocacy, financial and legal advice, marketing and sales advice, office and/or workshop accommodation, access to business technology, shared administrative services and networking," he said.

“A Business Incubator can service businesses housed within a purpose built facility or provide virtual support to remote businesses - a combination of both”.

"The amount of time that a business spends in an incubation program could vary; however, the aim was for businesses to ‘graduate’ out of the incubator program when they became commercially viable.

“This is just one of the ideas that we are looking at to fast track business start up and growth in the region,” Cr Brennan said.

Research shows that business incubators can make significant positive economic and social contributions to a community. They can generate business creation and retention, job creation, wealth, economic diversification, specialist industries, cross-business opportunities with established businesses and encourage entrepreneurial thinking. Successful incubators are themselves run as self-sustaining businesses.

The business incubator concept is considered to be consistent with the agreed master planning intention for the Lower Mill site, “To develop and sustain facilities for present and future generations with balanced consideration to history, culture, education, arts and economics”.

The consultants will first meet representatives of the business and broader community at a forum in early June. The forum will focus on providing the team with a greater understanding of the local business environment and the benefits (or potential barriers) to conducting business in the northern region.

Established, emerging and even failed business representatives are encouraged to register their interest to participate in the study by sharing their business experiences and/or networks.

Interested parties are invited to contact Carolyn Bullen on (07) 5449 5137.

MEET THE TEAM

The Business Incubator expert study team includes:

Dr Kim Houghton. Kim is currently director of consulting company Strategic Economic Solutions (SES) which provides services to a broad range of clients wanting to understand the economic issues affecting their communities and develop practical responses. Kim completed a major study in 1997 into the role of small businesses in regional economies – published as Jobs in Our Regions: Building on the Small Business Base. SES specialises in local economic analysis, opportunity appraisal, cost-benefit analysis, feasibility and business planning, and has completed economic plans with communities across Australia.

Amanda Kenyon. Amanda is a private consultant with 20 years experience in the community economic and small business development fields and runs her own successful small business. While Amanda specialises in Business Incubators, Small Business Development Initiatives, and Small Town Revitalisation, she has a broad range of experience in the community sector and State and Federal Governments managing various labour market and economic and community development programs. She has extensive experience in community development, small business incubation and has an in depth understanding of the issues facing rural and regional communities.

Julian Webb. Julian is recognized internationally and in Australia and has been a pioneer and leader in the small business development industry since the 1980s. This involved leading the development of the business facilitation and business incubation industries in Australia, assistance to the development of the business incubation industry in a range of countries including China, New Zealand, Iran, Saudi Arabia and APEC and to the World Bank’s infoDev Program. In Australia Mr Webb represents Business Incubators (as the founding Chairman and current Director of Business Innovation and Incubation Association, the peak body for Australia’s more than 100 business incubators) internationally and for advocacy and policy development in Australia. Julian has undertaken feasibility and business planning studies and SME and incubation development advice for numerous organisations including Development Agencies, UNDP, USAID, CIDA, EU, AusAid, World Bank’s infoDev Program, Universities, local economic development bodies, Councils, State and National Governments.