Baw Baw Shire Council has reflected on the first year of the four-year Economic Development Strategy 2018-2021.
The strategy has four areas of focus, which have guided the work of Council’s Economic Development team over the past year:
- Business engagement
- Business attraction
- Business advocacy
- Tourism (including the Destination Action Plans for Noojee and Surrounds, Yarragon and Surrounds and Walhalla and Mountain Rivers).
Throughout the year there was an emphasis on strengthening the relationship between Council and the business community. More than 300 meetings with local, regional and metropolitan businesses, industry representatives and local, state and federal government agencies were held to facilitate the strategy.
Over 70 meetings, networking events and training sessions were also held to support local business development.
To foster emerging businesses, Council partnered with Wellington, Latrobe City and Bass Coast Shire Councils to deliver the highly successful Startup Gippsland program. The 12-week business accelerator program was embraced by the local community, with 12 Baw Baw Shire businesses participating.
Council was the first in the Gippsland region to sign the Victorian Small Business Friendly Council Charter, developed by the Victorian Small Business Commission. The initiative was developed in partnership with local Councils to create a fair and competitive trading environment for small business.
Council’s advocacy priorities were also identified with the support of the Economic Development team. The A Better Future for Baw Baw: 2019 Advocacy Priorities plan is based on seven areas of focused growth including roads, community infrastructure, recreation, education, jobs and investment, transport and health.
An additional $8.70 million in grant funding was secured in 2018/19 to deliver key Council projects, including new early learning centres in Warragul and Trafalgar and a variety of road projects.
Council’s tourism brand Visit Baw Baw was repositioned to target the Melbourne visitor market and highlight Baw Baw Shire’s proximity to Melbourne. Marketing activities were centred around the Shire’s hero destinations, including Yarragon and surrounds, Noojee and surrounds and Walhalla and Mountain Rivers.
High profile events including the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Village Feast, Spartan Kids, Cinema Pop Up and the World Jousting Championships made their way to the Shire, attracting over 10,000 people in total. Three major cycling events were also sponsored by Council, helping to raise the profile of the Shire as a cycling destination.
Planning for future major events also took place, including the Australian Ballet’s Ballet Under the Stars event to be held at Lardner Park on Saturday 26 October. This event has received an overwhelming response with more than 10,000 registered to attend.