Working together for brighter futures

Photo worth 1000 words: Today's close-up photo of a stock yard was sent by Reanna Turner. Send your pics to peri.strathearn@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

Photo worth 1000 words: Today's close-up photo of a stock yard was sent by Reanna Turner. Send your pics to peri.strathearn@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

Working towards brighter futures

Our region is home to many innovative forward thinkers and people who are looking to do business smarter and more effectively. Collaboration between these businesses is key to unlocking our significant economic potential.

When businesses work together they create new economic opportunities, build and strengthen communities and support more regional jobs. Ultimately, businesses that collaborate can achieve together what would have been impossible otherwise.

According to “Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia’s Future” – a Federal Government study into best practice approaches for regional development – business collaboration, or clustering, offers three distinct competitive advantages: increasing productivity of local companies; stimulating innovation; and prompting the creation of new business within the cluster.

Business collaboration can range from two organisations partnering together for a joint-venture project, to an informal alliance between businesses, or a more formalised co-operative. The Murraylands Food Alliance  is a highly-successful example of business collaboration in our region.

The MFA is a collective of 11 of the region’s biggest food producers, processors and manufacturers. Together they contribute $1.1 billion a year – nearly half of the gross regional product for the Murraylands – to the South Australian economy.

Alliance members collaborate to develop strategies and initiatives which increase their productivity and competitiveness.

Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland  brought the alliance members together to discuss shared issues and opportunities, which has seen them go from strength to strength.

One initiative of the alliance is a collaborative online marketing platform, Thomas Farms Kitchen, which allows consumers to select meals from a weekly menu inspired by and featuring South Australia’s finest produce from alliance members. The recipes and pre-portioned ingredients are then packed and delivered to consumers, along with each business’ marketing material.

Other examples of business collaboration could include:

  • Establishing a new brand or marketing campaign to better promote a range of similar businesses, such as the “Made in Australia” slogan or RDAMR’s own “Murray River and Lands on your Table”.
  • Businesses partner together to secure new customers by developing and selling new co-branded products.
  • Forming an alliance or co-operative to create stronger bargaining power to lower costs of purchasing goods, services or utilities.

The State Government has recognised the potential benefits of business collaboration, and earlier this year launched a fund to help bolster South Australia’s regional economy and support job growth. The $150 million Regional Growth Fund has made $15 million available per year over 10 years, with funding available for regional development initiatives from $50,000 up to $2 million on a matched dollar for dollar basis. 

Applications for the $5 million competitive round of funding close this month, but now is the time to start developing your collaborative project as $10 million in the fund is open to applications year-round for strategic projects

Projects will be selected based on the following principles:

  • support for new economic activity
  • sustainable activity without further intervention by government after funding
  • activity creates benefit for multiple entities
  • activity contributes to the scale of an industry or sector
  • application has a connection to and vested interest in a specific regional community

For more information about collaboration or government grants phone 8535 7170 or drop into 137 Adelaide Road, Murray Bridge.

Jo Podoliak, Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland