How to Diversify Local Economies and Boost COVID-stressed SMEs
Sydney's northern beaches has been the location for a bold experiment in community-based entrepreneurship since late 2018 when not-for-profit, SEVENmile Venture Lab, was officially launched. SEVENmile Venture Lab is bringing new ideas and models, that are key to economic growth and resilience, to local communities.
The experiment has proven to be a great success and has enjoyed strong support from crucial Government stakeholders like Mayor Michael Regan and Manly MP, James Griffin.
SEVENmile founder, Greg Twemlow, believes that local communities need to find leaders who are motivated by a desire to create new opportunities thereby enabling innovation to thrive and entrepreneurs to be supported.
In Australia since March, all three levels of Government have instituted financial support that has helped keep our economy viable. Still, ultimately, it's entrepreneurs and business owners that are needed to build resilience in our communities.
There's tremendous pressure on Councils from their citizens to focus on community goals around accessibility, sustainability, livability, and economic development & resilience. Each of these critical issues warrants fresh and innovative input to complement the perspectives of Councillors and busy Council executives.
Local Government is working hard to cope with their Business-As-Usual agendas, so we can't expect they can readily take time out to pursue innovation programs that add further workloads.
Instead, there's excellent leverage for Councils in thinking of local venture labs like SEVENmile Venture Lab as innovation think-tanks, ready and eager to bring the Council's toughest challenges to their startup cohorts.
The potential returns for Councils are not just in harvesting startup innovation, they also foster community entrepreneurship and participation, in some cases, including local high school and college students.
The SEVENmile model can create a perfectly synergistic system where Councils effectively sponsor the kinds of community involvement that you could typically only dream is possible.
As we all move through the cycle of lockdowns and rebuilding, it will be the smart and future-thinking Local Governments that grasp the opportunity to link innovators to the machinery of the local economy. It's the ideal partnership and a perfect way you can help to restart your local economy.
In this environment, there is optimum leverage for Councils when working with venture labs. Both groups bringing tremendous energy and complementary skills and knowledge to be applied to solve the toughest of challenges.
SEVENmile Venture Lab founder, Greg Twemlow, suggests the time is right for Local Governments all over Australia to leverage what's been achieved on the northern beaches in Sydney.
The formula of a not-for-profit enterprise partnering with Councils is ready to be applied to diversify local economies and boost COVID-stressed SMEs and innovators.
Mr. Twemlow recommends that Councils formally embrace innovation programs to ensure their citizens can access support without needing to commute into the capital city CBDs.
He commented, "our experience has been that the people we help not only don't want to commute into central Sydney, they literally can't afford the time or the cost. They enjoy the perfect work-life balance of pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams and being close to home.”
At the opening of the SEVENmile Venture Lab, Manly Member of Parliament, James Griffin, commented, "Congratulations to all for the opening of the SEVENmile Venture Lab here in Seaforth, and what a fitting location as well. This site, the former Seaforth TAFE site, helped launch careers and enterprise for people of all ages, from aspiring young people to those wishing to re-skill or explore new ideas. Now, a not-for-profit with the aim of empowering individuals to contribute to the economic growth of their communities can call this community home. I wish to recognise Greg Twemlow in particular for his vision to develop an inclusive network of innovators and entrepreneurs that have the support, skills, and connections to positively change their communities and countries. I look forward to continuing to support SEVENmile and wish to recognise Northern Beaches Council and other supporters who have helped make this project possible.”
The Board of SEVENmile Venture Lab is ready to engage with senior Local Government executives to deploy the SEVENmile model in communities throughout Australia.