Sunshine Coast Council takes national award in communications
  • Friday 08 April 2011

Sunshine Coast Council has been recognised for its communication initiative, developed with key regional stakeholders to attract business investment to the region.

Last night (7 April), Government Communications Australia (GCA), at its annual conference and inaugural awards event in Canberra, recognised the Natural Advantage initiative developed by council and a number of partners as national communication best practice.

GCA recognized the key messages, communication process and channels of communication chosen by the council-led stakeholder group to date, had achieved the fine balance of letting the world know about the region’s great advantages for business, while also highlighting the region’s highly prized lifestyle and environment.

The initiative sells a message that those wishing to invest locally need to be aware of both the economic and lifestyle opportunities in making a future in the region so as to ensure everyone benefits.

The efforts to get this balance right and communicate it in a sensitive manner saw the council take out the 2011 Best Handling of Complex Issues Award.

Council’s Economic Development and Council Entrepreneurship portfolio councillor, Lew Brennan, said a new award category was added purely to accommodate the feat Sunshine Coast Council and its partners had achieved.

“I am told the event organisers were so impressed with the end-to-end program and how each step was being communicated to the market, they created this award and announced our Natural Advantage project would become the basis of comparison for all futures applicants aspiring to win this category in coming years,” he said.

“This is a great testament to the efforts to ensure our regional investment attraction message was consistent with what the community wants broadcast to the market.

“We have never been about investment at any cost - but where it adds value to our economy and does not detract from our region’s attributes, then we are as aggressive as any other region in wanting to attract it and the jobs it creates,” Cr Brennan said.

Council's Marketing and Investment manager, Alex Lever-Shaw, who was both the project leader and representative of council at the awards ceremony, said attracting new investment was just as challenging for every region in Australia.

“However, for some, particularly those with lesser growth than our own region the message is relatively simple – it's about come one, come all,” he said.

“But for the Sunshine Coast the stakeholder team recognised that is was not about growth for growth's sake, but very much about value-adding.

“We want new investment to create jobs but not if the cost is greater than the benefit it provides. We want firms who recognise we have a unique slice of the world and want to become as passionate as we are about protecting it while creating a profitable future.

“I am pleased we have found a number of those firms who have since invested and we are also having discussions with many more. For professional business investors, they understand this issue through their own need in balancing multiple outcomes relating to their shareholders wealth, productivity of their staff and their role as corporate citizens.

“To see a local government also taking this approach while trying to develop and diversify its economy, I think has impressed those we have talked to and made us more memorable as they continue their relocation investigations.”

Mr Lever-Shaw said other regions have seen what council has been able to achieve in such a short time in terms of articulating its own unique message.

“They have approached me for advice on how they might do this for their own communities with a similar level of sophistication,” he said.

“It is pleasing to see once again the Sunshine Coast being recognised at the national level as a source of innovation".

Natural Advantage is a joint initiative of the following partners:
Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast
University of the Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland
Noosa Biosphere
Sunshine Coast TAFE
Sunshine Coast Airport
Sunshine Coast Enterprises
Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance
Sunshine Coast Business Council
Queensland Government, Department of Employment Economic Development and Innovation
Sunshine Coast Celanteach
Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce