Board gets to business

NEWLY established Business Derwent Valley has begun work on its initial objectives around driving business development in the local region.

At its first meeting, the board also outlined a member- ship drive to begin this month.

The board includes residential and commercial designer Nathan Williams; distiller and homebuilder, Kelvin Derksen-Leuf; Banjo Bakery’s Robbie Iles; Rachel Power, who is owner of the Waterfalls Café and Gallery in National Park; and Dr Josie Kelman, of the Derwent Catchment Project.

Interim Executive Officer Ben Shaw said the organisation aimed to be a resource and voice for businesses of all sizes.

A core role is to enable local companies to network and collaborate with other business owners and with government bodies at all three levels.

“We’re committed to promoting economic growth and believe our organisation can play a key role in creating job opportunities and enhancing the overall prosperity of the Derwent Valley,” said Mr Shaw.

“Everything we do has a positive cast to it and demon- strates our pride in this region,” he added. “Yes, we expect our members to raise issues, but they will also be prepared to present solutions.”

Many local businesses, although different in their nature, have similar needs relating to their operations. “That’s true whether they have a large number of personnel or are a one or two-person enterprise.”

For instance, he noted, the Derwent Valley had three distilleries now: the Lawrenny, the Derwent and the New Norfolk Distillery.

“There’s an opportunity to share information, less to compete but to cooperate. There are real dividends in that approach,” Mr Shaw said.

“By sharing information and putting to work our networking opportunities, an organisation like ours can provide business owners with what they need locally, rather than having to go to Hobart or elsewhere.”

As part of its membership drive, Business Derwent Valley is inviting local firms to join up, with a particular focus on start-ups and small businesses.

The drive will involve a series of initiatives and net- working events to support the local business community.

Ben Shaw says a mix of emails, social and print media outreach will be utilised, as well as in-person visits and calls. A business breakfast is planned to discuss workforce development in the valley.

The board has already reached out to the Southcen- tral Workforce Network.

The agency, which operates across Brighton, the Derwent Valley and Central High- lands, works to increase the local workforce participation through access to meaningful and appropriate qualifications.

Coordinator Anthony McConnon, who met with Mr Shaw last week, said SWN helps local businesses better connect with employment services as well as training systems.

“We have registered some 1200 people looking for work in this region,” he told the Der- went Valley Gazette.

“The majority are already working but want to move up to full time work or their next job opportunity, or develop and better utilise their work skills,” he said.

“Working with Business Derwent Valley is smart for both organisations.”