Leadership, Collaboration, Adovcacy

'Incubate 208'- A Partnership Project Between C4EM, Bendigo Tafe Echuca, Shire of Campaspe and Murray River Council

The Committee for Echuca Moama, Bendigo TAFE Echuca Campus, Shire of Campaspe and the Murray River Council have been collaborating to advance the Echuca Moama business hub pilot project and have finalised a model that will allow the business incubator/hub/hot-desk initiative to begin.

Following key stakeholder meetings recently, Bendigo TAFE Echuca were supportive of the concept and quickly advanced the opportunity by committing to make various rooms and resources available for the pilot project.

The project titled ‘Incubate 208‘ will be a three-month program commencing March 2018 which allows micro-businesses, start-ups and businesses requiring a hot desk whilst visiting or travelling through, to access computer labs, meeting spaces and open plan office/training spaces to work from. The TAFE will have a dedicated available at least one day a week and possibly up to four or five where-ever possible, with other spaces being available almost full time.

C4EM CEO Martin Szakal said following local research and a recent business and industry event, participants showed an interest in working in a co-working environment. This initiative is a result of following this interest through to the next stage.

“As a group of organisations interested in further enhancing the local business environment and supporting skills development, we are all very excited to be able to deliver this opportunity for our community. Those businesses who are either working from home, or have an office space part-time, or are seeking to be more involved in a co-working environment where they can share knowledge, contacts and resources, are very welcome.” Said Mr. Szakal.

Already the group have developed a three-month program including visits from both the Victorian and New South Wales small business support units, and will facilitate lunch events that will have specialist business development speakers, and will also develop a business mentoring initiative.

“This is going to be a fantastic accelerator for micro and small businesses in our area. We will be encouraging all small businesses from both Shires to attend our events. And we will be inviting the business community to visit our space, and work from there periodically if they wish, so as to encourage a cross pollination of ideas, and exposure to other industries. Local businesses might also find that there are skills they could employ from our hub businesses as well. It is a great opportunity to both develop and showcase emerging businesses.” Said Mr. Szakal.

Natalie Green, Echuca TAFE Campus Administrator and Relationship Partner, and management of the Bendigo Kangan Institute, have been critical in unlocking this opportunity.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer our campus for this pilot. The program our working group has developed has a strong focus on helping build the capacity and capability of local start-ups and other businesses to ensure they have knowledge and the skills required to run successful businesses.” Said Ms. Green.

The project will again seek to secure funding from the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund to scope the next stage of the hub project.

“Of course, we are already thinking about what comes next, however this pilot will deliver us key insights, information and feedback, on how to progress this initiative. By the end of the pilot we will know what industry types, number of business, the level and diversity of skills that exist, and potentially help us scope out an operational model that will allow us to further the project. There are many successful hubs across the country that we will be exploring, including conducting a site visit for our hub-pilots to visit other business hubs in the region and Melbourne to see how they operate as well.”

“If we begin to imagine a coworking business environment that is both rich in diversity, is well connected to the business community, has strong links to education and skills training opportunities, provides a pathway for self-employment, has support and guidance from local and state governments, and is underpinned by a can-do attitude, we can help deliver a more innovative, interactive and sustainable local business economy…what a great outcome that would be for everyone.” Said Mr. Szakal.

The project is expected to attract operators from all industry types that are involved with services based delivery. This can include agribusiness, information technology, creative industries, accounting & finance, environmental services or any other areas where people are looking for a coworking environment. The pilot project is free for businesses to participate in, however there will be a code of conduct and rules of engagement for people to sign to ensure everybody’s expectations and needs are met.

'Incubate 208'
Business Hub Project 

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