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Workshop sparks next generation thinking

An Operation Next Gen workshop held last week brought together emerging leaders and community stakeholders to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes and discuss how Collie’s future can be strengthened through leadership, entrepreneurship, youth engagement and investment.

The workshop was the latest event in a series of conversations and skills development workshops held throughout the year with a group of emerging leaders as part of the Operation Next Gen Program being funded by the Collie & District Community Branch of the Bendigo Bank.

Under the guidance of entrepreneur advocate, Kerry Anderson, their mandate has been to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes and discuss how Collie’s future can be strengthened through leadership, entrepreneurship, youth engagement, and investment.

“Operation Next Gen’s aim is to create a community-wide conversation building on what is already great about Collie and at the same time opening our minds to new opportunities,’ explains entrepreneur advocate Kerry Anderson.

“With new technologies, the way we work and do business is rapidly changing and opening up a wider range of possibilities for rural towns.”

A survey of local youth attracted 200 responses and useful data for future planning. A Future Conversations Facebook page has been set up to share ideas. In a series of discussions, including a review of the ideas generated through previous community consultations, the ambassadors have engaged with stakeholders to pursue ideas that they are passionate about and believe will help strengthen Collie into the future.

Regan Old is one of a group of diverse people invited to take part in the Operation Next Gen program as an ambassador and local conversation leader.

‘I’m excited about getting everyone involved,’ he says. ‘We need cohesion between groups if we want to create something new for our future.’

‘The more we talk the more excited I am getting,’ fellow ambassador, Jasmine Hulls, agrees. ‘I feel that we are broadening our minds to the possibilities.’

Priority areas identified by the group to be pursued in 2018 include:

Collie in the 21st Century: Generate new ideas for alternate careers and business opportunities in Collie through a series of major events and initiatives.

Community and school-based workshops exploring new technologies were well received in August and a group of volunteer ‘virtual warriors’ have since posted over 100 360 degree photographs of Collie attractions on Google Maps. Continuing the conversation, Operation Next Gen will be co-hosting a virtual reality display at the Collie Show on 18 November so make sure you drop in and try it out.

In May 2018, Collie is hosting a Critical Horizons conference in partnership with the South West Development Corporation to explore the future of energy. In August 2018 a series of activities will be conducted with multiple partners to celebrate National Science Week. And preliminary planning is underway for a new major event celebrating innovation in early 2019. Ideas of a ‘Silicon Valley’ tech hub, major data storage facility, and other initiatives make for a great conversation. Who knows what may be possible in the very near future!

Adventure Capital of WA: Collective branding of Collie’s many adventure sports and activities to make it a go-to destination.

With Motorplex already a resounding success, it makes perfect sense to build a brand and collectively market a wide range of current and emerging adrenaline sports; everything from mountain bike riding in the forests to water skiing on the lakes and lots of other activities in-between appealing to a broad audience.

Encouraging Entrepreneurs: Generate new business ideas and support entrepreneurs to make them a reality.

Ideas include creating a calendar of events to help nurture new business ideas and strengthen existing businesses. Providing access to experienced mentors and investors will be other key objectives.

Positive discussions with the Collie Senior High School are exploring the introduction of two specialist entrepreneur programs with students in 2018.

Empowering Youth: Introduce new ways of engaging with youth and our indigenous communities to make learning more authentic and relevant.

Involving youth in meaningful community projects is a great way to provide hands-on learning. One idea being explored is for students to engage with local businesses to help promote them through a tourism app and production of video clips for social media. Ensuring that youth have access to specialist services and a ‘safe space,’ was also discussed.

Spring into Collie: Bring together a comprehensive program of events to be collaboratively marketed.

An extremely popular discussion has focused on the high number of events already operating in the Collie district and potential new events to provide year round attractions. It was agreed that one peak body, one coordinator, and a full time marketing person would be of great benefit.

Caravan Tourists: Target the caravan tourist market through improved and new facilities and services.

A number of suggestions to improve how Collie welcomes caravan and camping tourists were made through the Reimagining Collie conversations and these have been further explored by Operation Next Gen ambassadors. Simple facilities such as long bay car parking to a courtesy bus could help brand Collie as a caravan friendly destination. Development around our lake areas could include an opportunity for overnight accommodation facilities with everything from cabins to ‘glamping’ to cater for all levels and needs.

Anyone keen to join the Operation Next Gen conversation is invited to contact Kerry Anderson on 0418 553 719 or email ongcollie@gmail.com. Alternatively, speak to any of the Operation Next Gen ambassadors: James Abbott, Wil Massara, Ash Stewart, Brianne Farr, Erik Mellegers, Bec Woods, Brant Edwards, Jasmine Hulls, Regan Old, Natasha Ugle, Mystique Hillier, Jarrod Martin, Tyron Massara.

Posted in Business Hub, Community, Love Collie

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