March 2017

Mar 20, 2017

Businesses win as health campus takes shape

Karratha city’s skyline continues to transform, with construction of the $207.15 million Karratha Health Campus project well underway.

By 2018, Karratha’s new state-of-the-art hospital will have a significantly expanded emergency department and bring a new level of healthcare to the community. In the meantime, the major infrastructure project is having a positive impact on local businesses and jobs with 76 per cent local workforce to date.

Karratha-based business, Dynamite Concrete, has been responsible for the more than 2500 cubic metres of concrete that have been poured since construction commenced last year. A total of 8500 cubic metres will be used for the project in total, enough to fill more than three Olympic swimming pools.

Dynamite Concrete’s Director Matthew Day said after six years in business their big break came when they were awarded a major contract for The Quarter HQ.

“The builders gave us an opportunity to prove our capability on a major commercial project, which has subsequently helped us secure work on the Health Campus, where we currently have 44 contractors working on site,” Mr Day said.

Mr Day and his family chose to relocate to Karratha six years ago after work saw him frequently travelling across the north west.

“Karratha has the schools, the beaches, and the facilities that made it a place we happily chose to live as a family. Without all this I think it would be difficult to attract locally-based skilled contractors to work on these major projects.”

The Karratha Health Campus, which is the biggest investment in a public hospital ever undertaken in regional WA, also has a personal connection for the Karratha business owner and his family.

“We had to travel to Hedland Health Campus for my son’s birth five years ago, but it would have made a huge difference to us as a family to have our son here in Karratha where we live,” Mr Day said.

“The town needed this, I know the new hospital will make a huge difference to families living here.”

Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Officer John Lally said he was pleased to see local companies working on the early stages of the Health Campus.

“The project has already created many opportunities for local businesses,” Mr Lally said.

“As the project progresses we encourage all local businesses to tender for the work in their areas of expertise.”

So far, 78 per cent of the contractors and suppliers for the Karratha Health Campus site have been locally-based businesses, including Advanced Pest Control and Jupps Flooring.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said it was important to make the most of major infrastructure investments by ensuring local businesses got a fair share of the pie.

“Building a diverse and sustainable small business sector will see the region well on its way to achieving the Pilbara Cities vision of modern, vibrant communities where people choose to live, work and invest,” Mr Hill said.

“Small business keeps people in the regions; contributing to the community and building a life here with their families.”

The Karratha Health Campus is due for completion in 2018. The project is one of four major health infrastructure investments in the Pilbara, with new or upgraded hospitals also planned for Newman, Tom Price and Onslow.

Hubs to accelerate business growth

Tech-talks, hackathons and demo days could all become a regular fixture on the Pilbara’s corporate calendar with three business innovation hub projects getting underway in the region this year.

Through the Royalties for Regions Pilbara Cities initiative and Pilbara Regional Grant Scheme, the Pilbara Development Commission has secured funding for innovation hubs in Port Hedland, Karratha and Newman. The projects are being delivered through partnerships with the Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce, Pilbara Business Centre, Shire of East Pilbara and BHP Billiton.

In less than a decade, the rise of co-working hubs has gone from start-up idea to a global movement, with the aim of creating collaborative environments, where entrepreneurs and businesses foster partnerships, exchange ideas and thrive on shared successes. The Pilbara is ready to embrace this innovative concept.

Collaborative working environments do more than reduce overheads for small businesses; they foster creativity, encourage partnerships and introduce new technology. So with more than 2,200 home-based businesses in the Town of Port Hedland alone, there is significant opportunity to support the growth and development of new small businesses.

Creating a robust and diverse small business sector in the Pilbara is a key priority identified in the Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint, and the Pilbara Development Commission is continuing to work with industry bodies and local businesses to ensure the Pilbara is a place people choose to work, invest and do business.

From tradies to creatives and professional service consultants; having access to new technology platforms and a flexible, adaptive and vibrant environment has been proven to increase productivity by allowing businesses to control how and where they operate. Each Hub will unique, with an evolving dynamic depending on the different industries and individual personality’s utilising the Hubs at any given time. This innovative approach to business growth is set to contribute to the growing diversity of the region.

Construction of the East Pilbara Innovation Centre in Port Hedland’s West End is due to commence in April 2017, whilst designs for the Karratha Enterprise and Newman Hubs are already underway.

If you’re interested in learning more about an innovation hub in your town send us an email, or call our head office in Karratha on (08) 6551 7500.

New reports highlight the opportunities in aquaculture

Aquaculture was identified as a transformational opportunity in the Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint. The Pilbara has a vast array of opportunities for aquaculture and the Blueprint provides the vision and direction to strategically develop the industry.

The Pilbara Development Commission have released a suite of report prepared on its behalf by the Western Australian Department of Fisheries. The reports provide a comprehensive and critical assessment of the challenges and opportunities present in the Pilbara. In summary the reports found:

  1. Numerous sites are potentially suited for land and marine based aquaculture in the Pilbara-Gascoyne Region.
  2. Several fish species are potentially suited for aquaculture within the region; namely, edible oysters, three finfish species (amberjack, yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi) and algae.
  3. There is potential for suitable aquaculture systems to be located in the region to grow these species.

Nonetheless, the reports demonstrate there are some high-order hurdles to overcome for offshore aquaculture; these are outlined below.

  1. For a greenfield site scenario, financial projections and investment opportunity assessments indicate potential aquaculture sites will require significant up-front capital investment with long pay-back period.
  2. Aquaculture operations will potentially incur higher ongoing operating costs in view of the location of the region.
  3. Adverse environmental conditions including cyclones and naturally occurring cadmium and other heavy metals render the technical risk of establishing a viable commercial scale aquaculture industry as high.
  4. Such environmental conditions are likely to be an impediment to marketing any product (particularly edible oysters) when there are established existing markets without the risk factors.

The reports can be found here.

Partnership delivers the goods in first year

Craft makers and hobbyists in the Pilbara are turning their talents into viable small businesses, selling their wares across the state from Port Hedland to Perth.

The boost in business knowledge and know-how is thanks to an intensive creative business development series held in 2016 on topics such as product photography, social media marketing, brand management, visual merchandising and product diversification.

The creative business development series, which is part of a $1 million two-year partnership between the Pilbara Development Commission and arts consultancy FORM, is already bearing fruit for local businesses.

Talented illustrator, Shellie Blatch of Gypsy-Rose Designs, has been growing her Port Hedland-based business through the West End Markets over the last two years.

“Just a few years ago my illustrations were a hobby, I now have the confidence and tools to take my business to the next level. It’s great to have access to such high quality business development workshops available locally,” Ms Blatch said.

Twenty one creative businesses participated in the three volume business development series during 2016.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said small business was the backbone of any community.

“The creative industry in the Pilbara is thriving and shows no sign of slowing down. The decline in the cost of living and doing business is making way for new industries to flourish, which is creating new jobs and providing more choice for residents,” Mr Hill said.

“This series capitalises on the creative talent that already exists in the Pilbara, we hope it attracts more people to want to live and build a life here in the region.”

The creative business development series also led to the creation of the West End Collective, an online directory that establishes an online presence for creative small businesses in the Pilbara.

The partnership is made possible by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions Pilbara Cities initiative, delivered by the Pilbara Development Commission. The two-year partnership with FORM also supports the Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery, West End Markets, Spinifex Hill artist programs and the Port Hedland Visitor Centre.

Small grants provide big boost for community

Thirty projects across five Pilbara towns from Paraburdoo to Port Hedland have been awarded funding through the latest round of the Community Chest Fund.

The fund will see a total of $833,333 injected into a range of Pilbara initiatives including community events, tourism projects, infrastructure upgrades and cultural preservation programs.

Meanwhile, eight community projects have shared in $1.6 million in funding through the Pilbara Regional Grants Scheme.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the funding provided an essential kick start for a range of projects across the region.

Successful applicants include the Onslow Chamber of Commerce for a business support program, Kalyuku Ninti – Puntuku Ngurra to deliver a leadership program for Martu people, and the City of Karratha for the expansion of Nickol West Park.

A total of 21 Pilbara projects have shared in more than $4.39 million in funding since 2015 through the Pilbara Regional Grants Scheme.

The Community Chest Fund and Regional Grants Scheme are made possible by Royalties for Regions, and administered by the Pilbara Development Commission.

Behind the Commission: New job brings new opportunity

Living more than 5,000 kilometres away in New South Wales, it was the appeal of exploring a new frontier in WA’s north west that first caught the attention of Greg Slabb, who was appointed Principal Project Officer for the Pilbara Development Commission.

Driving into Port Hedland for the first time in October last year, Greg’s first impressions were not quite what he expected.

“I carried out a lot of research on Google Earth before arriving, but I’ve come to realise the Pilbara landscape is much more diverse and beautiful than it looks on a computer screen – you really have to be here to appreciate it.”

Now just four months into the job, Greg has clocked up more than 10,000 kilometres visiting communities and towns across the region from Nullagine to Onslow in his role leading the Pilbara Town Based Reserves project.

“My role is to support the community to ensure everyone in the Pilbara has the same level of access to education, healthcare and community facilities.”

Greg has more than 20 years’ experience in community development and project management. Prior to joining the Commission, Greg was the Operations Manager at the Aboriginal Housing Officer in New South Wales and before that he was instrumental in delivering the Aboriginal Communities Development Program with the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

“I’m really passionate about working in Aboriginal and community development and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the communities in the Pilbara.”

Greg has four sons and one grandson and has a thrill-seeking streak that’s seen him bungee jump, skydive and ride in an acrobatic stunt biplane. He’s also a photography enthusiast and has taken more than 2,000 photographs since arriving in the Pilbara four months ago.


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