Gippsland businesses set to thrive

ICN Victoria has partnered with Regional Development Victoria (RDV) and various support agencies to help local businesses connect with local opportunities.

ICN Industry Adviser, Colin Young, brought together a range of project managers and support agency representatives to deliver a series of briefings on project opportunities and available support across the Gippsland region.

More than 500 Gippsland-based suppliers took advantage of the opportunity to directly hear about more than $1 billion of work planned over the next 18 months.

In addition, major regional opportunities have been collated on ICN Gateway as a single point of reference for Gippsland business to learn about upcoming projects.

Colin, who came to ICN from major electricity generator, Loy Yang Power, said many businesses in the area were small and had little experience in marketing because the dominant industries in the area had tended to “feed them work on a pretty consistent basis”.

However, with the closure of Hazelwood Power Station and loss of 1000 jobs, a lot of small businesses had their regular work impacted by more than 60% and, in absence of support, some faced financial ruin.

In recognition of this, the Victorian Government established a new group in late 2016 – the Latrobe Valley Authority – to specifically support employees and business wishing to transition to new careers and/or business opportunities.    

‘When I visited many businesses and understood how they had previously found work, very few of them had any marketing experience and didn’t have staff skilled in tendering, particularly for government work,’ Colin said.

‘In addition, a common complaint from business managers was their lack of any forward knowledge of what work was coming up, and how they could best prepare to connect with and win it.’

As part of Colin’s work with RDV, he sat on a committee that had insight into planned government projects designed to stimulate the local economy and employment.  

With this background knowledge and an awareness of other local government projects Colin approached the three councils in his area – Baw Bar, LaTrobe and Wellington – to gauge their interest in participating in a regional showcase of all projects greater than $500k in value and the nature, timing, market approach, and key contact persons for those projects.

‘I was focused on making things happen. Businesses need to connect with these projects, because if they don’t, many are out of sight and out of mind.’

In addition, Colin said a lot of these big projects also come under the Victorian Industry Participation Policy (VIPP), which mandates minimum local content and the Industry Briefings provided an ideal opportunity to also educate councils and other project owners about their obligations in relation to VIPP with some never having heard of VIPP before.

‘From my point of view, it was a win-win all round. We are educating the project owners, alerting business about project they might be interested in, and helping link various support agencies with the people most in need of support such that even if the smaller businesses are not interested in bidding in their own right, at least if they registered on the Gateway page they are in a position to be seen by the larger Tier 1 and 2 contractors who choose to bid and win’

From his industry research Colin also identified the need for many businesses to improve their tendering and marketing skills.

With this in mind, ICN, RDV, and the LVA jointly funded a series of Tender Writing and Marketing workshops in 2017, and these were repeated this year with a total of more than 160 businesses attending.

The Gippsland Portal on Gateway currently lists several large projects for businesses to express interest in:

  • Regional Rail Revival
  • Gippsland Hi-Tech Precinct Innovation Centre - Construction & Trade Opportunities
  • Latrobe Creative Precinct
  • Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre
  • Traralgon Sports Stadium
  • Fulham Correctional Centre Expansion Project
  • Morwell Recreation Reserve

Colin advises local Gippsland business to register for information about upcoming projects on the Gateway page.