April 2018

Apr 9, 2018

A cracking year ahead

We’re a quarter of the way through 2018 and the year is shaping up to be a big one for the Pilbara.

A number of opportunities to develop new industries continue to emerge as the Pilbara carves out a new future which is set to be characterised by business diversity, local employment and high quality of living for all residents.

Last month our directors and senior project officers came together at Whim Creek for a strategic project planning workshop. The meeting was an opportunity to review our investments and ensure we continue to deliver value to our stakeholders and measurable benefits to the Pilbara economy.

To achieve this, we will continue to deliver against key opportunities to diversify and grow the regional economy such as new energy, agriculture and tourism. Pursuing these strategic growth opportunities will deliver create greater diversity of businesses and jobs so the Pilbara is less reliant on the mining and resources sector which dominants our economy.

This year we will see a number of infrastructure projects across the region come to fruition, including small business innovation hubs in Port Hedland and Karratha, the Victoria Hotel redevelopment in Roebourne, the new Paraburdoo Community Hub, Karratha Health Campus and the Red Earth Arts Precinct.

There are also a number of economic diversification opportunities making progress in the Pilbara as the region builds a reputation as a place that’s great to do business. The Pilbara Rock Oyster Research and Development project is on track with oysters now moved to grow out baskets, the EcoMag proof of site pilot plant is up and running, the Sahara Forest feasibility study is nearing completion and new opportunities are emerging in innovative agriculture.

There’s a lot happening in the Pilbara, so to keep regional development news and information easily accessible, the Commission recently published a refreshed website homepage to bring our priority development areas to the forefront, I invite you to have a look at the website to see our latest work.

Together with our partners in government, industry and the community, I’m excited about the bright future ahead for the Pilbara.

Terry Hill | Chief Executive Officer

Designs unveiled for biz hub

Architectural design options have been unveiled for the redevelopment of a property in Karratha which will see it transformed it into a hub for budding entrepreneurs and innovator thinkers.

The Karratha Enterprise Hub, located in heart of the city, promises to offer flexible working space to existing small businesses and new start-ups in Karratha to help them grow.

Pilbara Business Centre Chief Executive Officer Paul Jagger called for feedback on the design options from local businesses and the broader community.

“The success of the Hub relies on its ability to meet the needs of Karratha small businesses, so it’s vital we get the configuration of spaces right,” Mr Jagger said.

As the design for the redevelopment gets underway, the existing property is already supporting local start-ups. The Business Centre Pilbara secured its first new tenant for the Hub, local cosmetics business the Jummi Factory, and has also leased pop-up retail space to home-based businesses such as Pilbara Dive and Tours.

“What makes this project different is that it’s a redevelopment rather than a new build which makes it quite unique in Karratha. This is our opportunity to breathe life back into an existing building by using innovative architectural design and introducing a new level of technology and connectivity,” Mr Jagger said.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the Hub would support the growth of the small business sector in the West Pilbara.

“Developing a diverse and competitive small business sector is crucial to achieving sustainable economic growth and providing a diversity of career choices for Pilbara residents,” Mr Hill said.

The Karratha Enterprise Hub, delivered by Business Centre Pilbara and supported by the Pilbara Development Commission, will be a vibrant and flexible space incorporating co-working areas, incubation suites, meeting rooms and space for business and community events.

The Hub, which is due for completion late-2018, will be integrated with other innovation centres in the region including The Web, which is currently under construction in Port Hedland, and The Edge in Newman’s recently-completed town square.

Visit the Business Centre Pilbara website to view the designs and contact admin@businesscentre.org.au to provide feedback.

Image is an artist impression for illustrative purposes only.

Join the innovation partnership

The Commission is calling for registrations of interest to join the Pilbara Regional Innovation Partnership. The group will spearhead a plan to strengthen the region’s business competitiveness by building entrepreneurial and commercialisation capabilities.

The Partnership is being established as part of the State Government’s New Industries Fund, which will allocate $4.5 million across the nine regions of Western Australia to support venture creation, accelerate small-medium enterprise growth and seed innovation initiatives.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the Commission would play a key role in establishing and coordinating the Partnership.

“Seizing opportunities to develop new industries is a key part of our role as the State’s regional development authority for the Pilbara. This is an exciting opportunity backed by State Government funding to support a project that would deliver diversity and new local jobs region’s economy,” Mr Hill said.

“We’re looking forward to working with the region’s innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs to make the most of this opportunity.”

The Partnership will develop a Regional Innovation Roadmap, action plan and innovation project for considering of funding.

You can get involved by registering for the Pilbara Regional Innovation Partnership and attending a workshop on 26 April in Port Hedland, or on 27 April in Karratha. Any Pilbara-based organisation or individual interested in innovation and business development are encouraged to register to join a Regional Innovation Partnership. If you would like to attend the workshop please email Principal Economic Development Officer Justin Fromm, or call the Commission on 6551 7500.

Under the New Industries Fund, up to $300,000 will be allocated to each of the nine regions for initiatives that build a regional innovation pipeline and drive job creation at a local level. The funding will target small-medium enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, organisations providing innovation support in the regions and transforming existing businesses to seize new industry opportunities.

For more information or to register your interest visit the New Industries WA website.

Transforming agriculture in the Pilbara

Imagine buying grapes or stone fruit that were grown right here in the Pilbara.

It could prove to be possible under a new project, announced by the Minister for Regional Development in Newman last week.

Transforming Agriculture in the Pilbara will prove up soil and water resources in the region for potential horticulture, fodder and field crops, with early research showing the climate and soil surrounding Newman could potentially be suitable for growing stone fruit.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill was in Newman for the announcement last week.

“The east Pilbara could become the epi-centre for a new horticultural industry, growing everything from fodder crops to stone fruits, which is an exciting prospect for the region,” Mr Hill said.

“Establishing a new irrigated agricultural industry in the east Pilbara would create local jobs for Newman and support diversification of the economy.”

It’s all part of a $5.9million initiative to investigate irrigated agriculture opportunities in the Pilbara.

Initial findings have identified a potential water supply in the Pilbara of at least 100 gigalitres, which if verified, equates to up to 12,000 hectares of irrigated land to add to the region's current fledgling industry of 2,750 hectares.

This project is part of unlocking the economic potential of the region to bring greater diversity to our economy and more jobs for local workers.

The Pilbara Development Commission is pleased to be working with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development on this important project.

For more information read the announcement from the Minister for Regional Development.

Commercial property more affordable for businesses

The latest figures from the Pilbara Development Commission’s Commercial Property Report show the cost of leasing retail and office space continues to decrease, making it more affordable for local businesses.

The report also revealed the value of commercial building approvals across the region are on the rise, with each local government authority recording an increase in the 2016-17 financial year when compared to the previous year.

The Town of Port Hedland recorded the highest increase of more than 270 per cent from the previous year, rising from $18 million to $67 million. The City of Karratha also recorded a significant increase to $79 million compared to $37 million in 2015-16.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer said non-residential building approvals were a positive early indicator of increased economic activity in the region.

“These figures signal a higher level of confidence in the Pilbara which indicates that the region’s economy is continuing to grow.”

The report also found the cost of leasing retail, office and industrial properties in the Pilbara decreased in the six months to December 2017.

“Additional options such as The Quarter in Karratha’s city centre, and continued developments in areas such as South Hedland town square, are opening up opportunities for businesses to secure commercial space at a more affordable rate,” Mr Hill said.

The Commercial Property Snapshot is a bi-annual report produced by the Pilbara Development Commission. Contact the Commission to receive the reports when they are released, or download the latest reports from the Commission’s website.

Staff Profile: Carolyn Biar

Carolyn Biar is one of the Commission’s longest serving staff members with an impressive 13 years under her belt, which could be to do with the fact that she thinks her job with the Commission is the best she’s ever had.

“I get to indulge my passion for the Pilbara through a wide variety of projects working with and for people in the community,” she said.

In her role as Senior Project Officer in the tourism portfolio, Carolyn combines her passion for travel with her love of the Pilbara.

“I would like the world to know what is here and have a chance to experience the wonder of the region’s Aboriginal cultural richness and natural beauty,” she said.

“We have everything from evidence of first life at Marble Bar, tours that take you through the world’s largest bulk export port in Port Hedland, and 42 pristine islands in the Dampier Archipelago.

“Not to mention the four incredible national parks; Karijini with its deeply scored earth forming incredible gorges, Millstream Chichester with its stunning waterways, Murujuga with its millions of petroglyphs and Karlymilyi which is Australia’s second largest national park.”

As a major driver of economic activity and local jobs, tourism is a key strategic growth opportunity for the region.

“The Commission works to support the reinvigoration of tourism in the region, partnering with other government agencies and Aboriginal Corporations and not for profit agencies and business,” Carolyn said.

When she’s not travelling around the Pilbara attending her favourite events, including Karijini Experience and Cossack Art Awards, Carolyn enjoys challenging herself to learn a new skill.

“Last year I started learning the guitar and tried my hand at art glass making at a workshop with the Cheeditha Arts Group, and this year I’m learning macramé.”

Carolyn is also a Justice of the Peace, which is a service provided to the community free of charge, and is member of the local brand of JPs.

Regional Grants

A number of local, state and federal grants are currently up for grabs. Here’s a list of some of the key ones;

New Industries Fund – Regional WA

$4.5 million from the New Industries Fund has been allocated to regional areas, targeting strategically important industries and areas for investment. The Commission is establishing a Regional Innovation Partnership to guide the Pilbara’s investment. Read more.

City of Karratha Take your Business Online Grant Scheme

The grant scheme aims to improve the digital capacity and online marketing of small businesses in the City of Karratha. Up to $5,000, matched dollar for dollar, is available for businesses. Applications close 16 April 2018. Click here for more information or email the City of Karratha.

Regional Growth Fund

Grants of up to $10 million are available for major transformational project which support long-term economic growth and create regional jobs. Initial applications close 27 April 2018. Click here for fund guidelines or email the Regional Growth Fund helpdesk.


Not-for-profit organisations can apply for a Lotterywest grant throughout the year. Visit the Lotterywest website for more information or contact their grants team on 133 777 to discuss your idea.


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