Regional revolution on target

SA’s regionsneedto reinvent themselves through businessinnovation and entrepreneurial cultureto ensure a prosperous future.
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PLAN HATCHED: Sally and Bill Hood, Hoods Earth Produce, Keith, have successfully changed from cattle producers to free range chicken farmers and re-gained their enthusiasm for agriculture.

That was the message from the 2016Regional Summitin Mount Gambier last week, hosted by PIRSA and the Department of State Development, in conjunction with SA’s three universities.

University of Adelaide academicNoel Lindsay says it ispossible to foster entrepreneursbyencouraging people to seeopportunities with the resources available and linkingbusinesses.

“Those start-up businesses that are more entrepreneurialtend to outperform others withmore employment and money being spent, but they make up less than 10 per cent of businesses,” he said.

The universityworked withInnisfail in Qld, whenits economy stalled after the collapse ofsugar prices.

From the uni’sbusiness incubator and acceleratorprogramshave come new venturesincluding ecotourism, tea plantations, exotic fruits and crocodile farming.

It is now workingwiththe community of Chalons-en-Champagne, nearParis in France, whichlost 1800 jobs recently with amilitary regiment decommissioned.

Professor Lindsay said theseprograms could be replicated in regional SA.

Balco managing director Malcolm May encouraged businesses to “believe in what they are doing and never give up”.

Mr May highlightedthe growth of thehay exporter in the past 15 years and diversification into land transport terminalthrough Bowmans International.

Balco has a$100 million turnover –$80min hay and $20min rail –and isgrowing.

The throughput of theirthree hay plants in SA and WA is175,000 tonnes, but their five-year plan is to lift this to 250,000t.

“SA is ripe for more hay plants,” he said. “Fodder is another alternative for farmers and it really does help in frost-prone areas to have another option.”

In seven years, Balco has become35pcof China’s hay marketand has startedsending hay into Indonesia and Vietnam. Mr Mayseesfurther markets opening up inIndia and Middle East.

He said addingingredientsto hay was a great way forward.

“In Japan in the early 90sthey would pick up hay on a push bike,” he said.“But we are selling to dairies in China with 150,000-200,000 cows so they prescription feed their stock,so for us to put barley or anything in this hay at a prescribed amount is the next thing.”

Mr May also seeshuge potential for making their 600-hectaresite near Balaklavainto a major Mid North intermodal hub.

“What we need to do is have avision of what the future will look like for your community, your state and your country,” he said.

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