Wednesday, 1 April 2015

What happened at the Newstead Business session

ROCKET SCIENCE - BUSINESS IN NEWSTEAD - 29TH MARCH, 2015
Welshmans Reef Winery
NOTES

Although it was a record breaking session in terms of attendance (three bona-fide guests only) it felt that we made up for quantity in terms of quality. The discussion was excellent and far-reaching.

The low turn out gives us something to think about given that this was one of the ten most spoken of issues when the Community Plan was put together.  Did you know it was happening - in other words how was our publicity? Did you decide you were not interested? Are you sick of these things? Please let us know by leaving a comment below which can be anonymous

Doug Bell - Apologies

Genevieve Barlow -  Maldon & District Community Bank
  • $2millionth in community grants -  concern that some community groups are relying on support from Maldon & District Community Bank grants rather than becoming self reliant.
  • The bank is presently reviewing Community Investment Strategy - large grants for the whole community rather than a series of small grants?
  • The Community Bank is sponsoring Mount Alexander Business Awards 2015 - entries closed March 30th.
  • Mums Workshop by www.careerchangehappens.com - April 21 in Newstead.
  • Renewable Newstead encountering funding delays due to bureaucratic process.
  • Genevieve spoke of her involvement with Holy Goat cheese producers and their success in mentoring interns, trading at farmers’ markets and ability  in living, sharing their values. http://holygoatcheese.com/work-placements

Ron Snep -  Welshmans Reef Winery; Business Mount Alexander.
  • Ron has been in business for most of his life which allows him to develop a true alignment between his values and business activity. Whatever he gives he receives so much more in return.
  • School of Social Entrepreneurs - attended a course in Bendigo in 2014 http://sse.org.au/
  • Passionate about building sustainability in the community.
  • Outlined his recent venture to assist Mildura grape growers faced with a wine glut, cancelled contracts & unsaleable harvests. Rather than waste a year’s effort and destroy a harvest, Ron devised a scheme whereby grapegrowers supplied their grapes and he made the wine for free. His role is to develop markets for the wine then share the profits 50/50 with the growers on the sale, after deducting costs of packaging. He personally developed a new market, capacity has increased hugely since 2012,  with  2000 cartons of wine exported to China. Mildura grapegrowers are now earning higher returns than with the previous contracts in their district.
  • A Social Entrepreneur sees an issue or problem then finds a way to remedy through business. An Entrepreneur sees an opportunity and develops a business to exploit it.
  • Ron is Deputy Chair of Business Mount Alexander -  an organisation dedicated to supporting, connecting and promoting the business community in Mount Alexander Shire. Four networking events held annually. http://businessmountalexander.org.au

Melissa - Trouble Magazine
  • Started Trouble magazine 11 years ago serving central Victoria with 20,000 copies - after eight years circulation grew to 1 million. The GFC and Digitisation combined as a double hit to their street press magazine. The publishing sector is particularly vulnerable to shifts in the economy, advertising revenues are down, funding  to Arts slashed, particularly large universities - just when Trouble’s readership is growing.
  • Print media still adjusting to the rapidly shifting world of social media and digitisation. Marketing is a real challenge, gauging returns on investment, specialised skills required.
  • Both Steve and Melissa are working away from their core business while they grapple with issues of viability for the future of Trouble Magazine - at a crossroads. Their profile has never been higher nor their financial position less assured.
  • Melissa has worked with the Collective Impact Team - Go Goldfields Alliance - Central Goldfields Council, which  “Utilises the arts in everything it does to foster learning; build confidence; motivate; and deliver social connection.” as part of a collective approach to disadvantage.
  • Creative Arts is the fastest growing sector in the economy especially booming graphic, internet video gaming businesses. Melissa quoted $86billion GDP in the creative economy compared to $89 billion in the finance sector but it is the finance sector that captures most attention.
  • Artists, creatives, many in micro-businesses, battle the perception that they don’t make much of a contribution to the economy,  “Artists as bludgers” and are undervalued.
Nick Hudson - Hudson Publishing
  • Brief recap of how a new graduate found himself on his way to Australia for Heinemann Publishing & how the business grew from 1 person to 28 employees with a best seller that sold 8 million copies. After a corporate restructure in the UK, he started Hudson Publishing  which continues to innovate with Print on Demand and a digital, boutique approach in Newstead.  There is a boom in opportunities for self publishing - poets can POD for a gig make direct sales and reap rewards, offering an immediate reach to readers thus overcoming barriers of finding publishers, distributors and sellers who eat into margins.

Anthony Santamaria - Newstead Community Lunch
  • Passion for community building.
  • Working with volunteers has its own challenges.
  • Takes donated food that would be composted and turns into nutritious delicious lunches for all in Newstead - a new and expanding business model. In France this model has 7,000 outlets providing nutritious affordable meals for all.

Discussion
Newstead Needs :
  • A list of businesses currently operating in Newstead. The listings on  the http://newstead.vic.au/business site are out of date and a volunteer is needed to manage entries.
  • A Business Skills Register
  • Local  skills exchange, time bank, labour skills sharing register. Saide spoke of how years ago in the Dandenongs, the local Community House hosted a successful “LETs” scheme that allowed artists and others on low incomes to access the local economy. Cafes and other businesses remained viable, despite a drop in income, offset by ‘trades’, and community goodwill. Alternative currency  created a dynamic, vibrant local economy that beneffited all.
  • Newstead Foundation - non profit with Tax Deductible status (Ron Snep) a source of untied funds.  This works in Benalla, many former residents make donations to assist local initiatives, money collected and distributed free of external constraints from grant providers.

Lively discussions on the following:
  • Values, Business Lifestyle Balance a topic for us all.

  • Internships - offer potential for local businesses to ‘employ’ new graduates and seniors who lack specific experience. Internships offer CV references and a pathway to future employment openings. Problem of exploiting unpaid workers an issue. Some Visa requirements for travellers include 80 days work in rural areas to extend a visa - could include Newstead.

  • Putting back into the community, supporting and partnering with other local businesses, making a contribution, “spending local” needs to be a conscious, ongoing commitment for all of us. Newstead’s envied reputation as such a dynamic community owes much to the multigenerational commitment of locals.

  • Virtual Red Dot Gallery for Newstead to promote arts and expose up and coming and local artists of all kinds to a wider audience. (Dave Stratton)

  • What can we get going in Newstead that will create employment? Internet, Broadband makes normal what would seem improbable 20 years ago. Internet is the best research tool available, all the resources available fingertips cf visiting a major reference library.

  • NBN offers Newstead an immediate edge over Castlemaine. Many in Castlemaine lack access to internet, or speed is slow. Trouble Magazine took 15 hours to upload with constant risk of dropout, same content in Newstead Broadband is 15 minutes!  Aggregation, Hot Desk, Business Hubs offer potential to places with fast Internet service.

  • Partnerships with corporations - develop long term relationships for mutual benefit. Potential for Renewable Newstead and Arts.

  • MASG about to release a Waste  Survey of Mount Alexander Shire could offer potential opportunities for Newstead and local businesses & Community Garden.

  • Currently, people over 55 need to undertake 30 hours of voluntary work a fortnight to remain eligible for social security payments.  The RTC is so far the only body in Newstead using this pool of labour. A register of eligible community groups and organisations in Newstead needs to be set up so more local unemployed can offer their time and skills within Newstead.

  • The Convent in Abbotsford  has a carpark that provides its major income stream for a huge variety of artistic creative activities.

Once again, people in Newstead are at the forefront, actively  considering the many business opportunities that social entrepreneurship, fast Broadband, and community building bring in these uncertain times. Could such networking be ongoing?

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