Economic development

Why is this important?

Local governments have an important role to play in supporting and stimulating the local economy.

Many councils create economic development strategies for their municipality or in conjunction with bordering councils. These strategies support business and encourage the development of local expertise by promoting industrial clusters, supporting development of mixed use precincts and providing supporting infrastructure. A number of councils also work actively through local traders, markets and main street programs.

In Victoria there were 900 Aboriginal owner-managed enterprises in 2011, including self-employed people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. These businesses operate in a diverse range of industries, ranging from construction, consulting services, agriculture and transport to manufacturing (Read the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Strategy).

Councils are in a position to support Aboriginal businesses to take advantage of the benefits of local, regional and the globalising economy. A business relationship can benefit council, the Aboriginal business and the broader community.

Closing the Gap, Success factors for Indigenous entrepreneurs and community based social enterprises

What can your council do?

Councils can actively involve Aboriginal people and businesses in the development of local or regional economic strategies.

Councils can also commission existing Aboriginal organisations and businesses to deliver required services (see ‘Aboriginal Procurement’). Councils can also support the incubation of Aboriginal businesses.

Councils can also extend support to Aboriginal organisations seeking to attract funding to grow their businesses (e.g. via Regional Management Forums).

The 2012 Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey found that some councils were working to increase local Aboriginal economic participation through:

  • Procurement of Aboriginal goods and services
  • Formal support for Aboriginal economic development
  • Involving local Aboriginal businesses in business networks
  • Involvement in Aboriginal tourism activities.

Last Updated: June 8, 2018 at 6:42 pm

Case study

Darebin City Council supports two of Australia’s most successful business incubators: Darebin Enterprise Centre Ltd (DECL) in Alphington and artsDECL in Northcote.

artsDECL is a highly successful arts and creative business incubator which commenced operations  in 2010. The prime objective of this business incubator is to support start-up and growing businesses, offering affordable space and intensive support and mentoring. The Darebin Enterprise Centre is a nationwide organisation that has worked successfully in Victoria with Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust (Gippsland), Bangerang (Central Victoria), Winda Mara (South West Victoria), Yorta Yorta (Murray) and Jerrang (Metropolitan Melbourne). Darebin Enterprise Centre works with Aboriginal entrepreneurs to:

– Identify business opportunities

– Conduct pre-feasibility studies on proposed ventures

– Prepare feasibility plans and assist with the development of business plans

– Help seek necessary capital

– Prepare mentor support to business managers

– Monitor and evaluate business performance.


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