Townsville puts the connections to work

During 2008 Townsville City Council conducted a series of industry cluster workshops in partnership with local, regional and state social and economic development organisations and agencies.

This led to the identification of an immediate need - to put these connections to work by creating collaborations, business networks and joint ventures on the ground.

Rodin Genoff & Associates was engaged as lead consultant to facilitate Cluster Connections, a pilot project supported by Townsville Enterprise and the Queensland Government. Its
task was to develop understanding of these connections and build practical business networks and collaborations that would lead to new business and investment opportunities.

Townsville Cluster Connections is based on a business model from the Paris-based policy think-tank, the OECD, which believes industries are concentrated in particular regions and they can outperform others by collaborating on partnerships, networks and joint ventures.

The lessons from the project will subsequently inform the Townsville City Council's future cluster policy and development of practical programs to support companies.

The take-up of local companies was exceptional and results were quickly achieved. One company estimated that joining the Townsville cluster would enable it to create $20 million in projects.

Five engineering firms and six environmental firms expressed willingness to enter into structured networking partnerships for their industries. They're now in the process of integrating and working more closely to bid for large contracts that they couldn't otherwise consider, both national and international, with Townsville City Council working to finalise the partnership arrangements.

"Companies are now choosing to think and behave differently in response to the current downturn by diversifying their markets and breaking into new ones," said Rodin Genoff. "Providing them with a platform for clustering will grow local jobs and brand Townsville as a global player.

"By bringing together these industrial dynamics, innovation and new thinking – putting into practice 'working with what we have' – the financial resources and know how contained within Northern Queensland's driver industries will unlock the industries of the future.

"As one of the largest and fastest growing tropical cities in the developed world, Townsville has great opportunities to become a global showcase demonstrating just what can be done."



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