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Champions of Industry: Businesses broadening horizons

Annabel was recently invited to be on the panel for the Mackay Chamber’s Champions of Industry event. It saw six industry representatives discuss their observations and recommendations on ways forward for businesses and organisations. I spoke with Annabel about the event and asked her to highlight the key takeaways:

Last month, I had the opportunity to participate as a panel speak on the Chamber of Commerce Champions of Industry which show cased 6 different industries within the region including education, health, sugar, retail, tourism and local government. These included:

  • John Cooney (Helloworld director) on retail
  • Paul Schembri (chairman of Canegrowers Queensland) on sugar.
  • Amanda Camm (Mackay Regional Council deputy mayor) spoke about the council
  • Tas Webber (Mackay Tourism general manager) talked up tourism
  • Leigh Goldsmith (as HR Director at Mackay Hospital and Health Service) on health in our region
  • Annabel Dolphin (as TAFE Queensland Board chairperson) on education

The purpose of the event was to have a really informal discussion about the state of play within each of the industries, current challenges being faced, how we are overcoming them and what opportunities are there for businesses to engage.

Here were some of my key take-aways for those that missed it:

Sustainable Population Growth Is Key

For a regional city to be sustainable, we need to have a population of approximately 100,000 – Mackay is currently around 80,000 (at best). There was lots of discussion about how we can attract more people to our region, especially families. If you quantify this with the average four-person family, we need to attract another 5000 families to our region or create the equivalent roles that live in our community. This will have a direct impact on our property market, retail, hospitality, and education sectors.

New Innovation and Ideas

There were plenty of ideas from the panel and the participants on how we can take our great city forward. This included

  • Looking at how best we can increase the output and profitability of the sugar crop in making alternative products such as plastics and bio-fuels
  • Getting on the bandwagon with the $21 billion-dollar international student industry to create a genuine study cluster in Mackay region to promote the unique education and lifestyle opportunities.
  • To continue to promote the unique tourism products we have in our region and perhaps post cyclone Debbie, we need to be especially conscious of where we spend our tourism dollars and support the regions that have been most affected.
  • Look at how we can export our agriculture and METS sector knowledge to developing countries such as South America, Africa and India

We Need to All Play Our Part

This is not just industry leaders that have the responsibility to look at generating employment opportunities. Every time we buy local you can guarantee that your money will at least support those employed and increase the chances of profits being invested back into our community.

Leigh Goldsmith gave a very practical example of how they recruit senior employees and make a conscious effort through the recruitment process to ensure that they also recruit the families into town by showcasing our education, property and facilities. Simple things that Council has delivered or are in the works, like modern libraries, upgraded parks and the development along the riverfront are key to improving the livability of our great regional city.

Perhaps the continued advocacy of our political and industry leaders to Tier 1 mining companies to support local jobs rather than FIFO or stem the tide in mining of the casualisation of our largest workforce. This means recruiting and placing roles in our region, not complaining that they can’t find skilled people to fill casual roles. It’s about time that they gave back to a community that has over the last two generations.

It was a great opportunity for Annabel to combine her knowledge of local business strategy, alongside her board role as Director TAFE QLD, and to talk with other industry leaders in setting the path forward for regional QLD.

With more than 90 businesses  represented at the event the overall message to me was; that to keep driving business performance we must continue to grow our community to ensure our future sustainability. It is through looking at the bigger picture and opportunities that may be outside of our usual field that the long term impact will be, the continued turnaround in growth that we are starting to see in our economy.

If you would like to read the Daily Mercury article about the event… CLICK HERE  

To see upcoming Mackay Chamber Events CLICK HERE

About the Author

Tim Miles

Tim Miles is the co-founder of  Miles Management Consulting which supports business owners and leaders to drive better business performance.

Tim has vast experience in the strategic and financial management of businesses with a particular focus on cash flow and profit improvement, strategic thinking and performance reporting.  He has extensive knowledge of business start-ups and acquisitions as well as exit and succession planning.  Tim is an adviser with Supertrac, a corporate advisory firm specialising in business divestments, mergers and acquisitions.

Tim is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA), Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) with the Exit Planning Institute (EPI).

If you have any specific questions or would like to suggest future blog topics, please do not hesitate to contact Tim on

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