Registrations now open for next 'Economic Gardening' program

Business owners who are ready to take their enterprise to the next level are invited to be part of the next Economic Gardening Illawarra business development program.
Applications are now open for the free program which is delivered by business specialists with a proven record of building and assisting successful enterprises.
The program targets businesses that have sound business models, are no longer start-ups and are ready to mature to the next stage of their development.
More than 500 businesses have participated in the program during the past 11 years with many achieving outstanding growth by increasing their turnover and the number of employees.
The program is delivered free to businesses in the Illawarra and is funded through a partnership between Shellharbour, Kiama and Wollongong Councils.
Shellharbour City Council General Manager Carey McIntyre said the program provided knowledge and tools to plan and implement strategies for sustainable business growth. 
“In the past, this program has also helped businesses broaden their scope to include national and international market places,” Mr McIntyre said.
“In addition to the assistance the Economic Gardening program provides to individual businesses, it continues to have a significant positive effect on the regional economy, as evidenced through the results of the most recent survey of graduates undertaken by IRIS Research,” he said.
The survey had a response rate of 43% and showed that:
  • Respondents employ 553 FTEs and turnover $80.6 million
  • When economic multipliers are applied, 863 jobs are sustained and $139.4m generated in the regional economy
  • Respondent businesses had increased their employment by 230 FTE (up 71.2%) and turnover by $34.3m (up 74%) since completing the program
  • This amounted to an additional 310 FTE and $58.8m generated in the regional economy
Overall 87% of respondents stated that the program had a positive impact on their business, with 94% indicating they would recommend the program to others. 
Additionally, it was again noted in the survey report (as for the two previous surveys) that ‘both trading and profitability reported by businesses that participated in the Economic Gardening Program are significantly higher than those reported for Illawarra’s business community as measured by the IRIS quarterly business survey’.
Mr McIntyre said the fact that this initiative was delivered free to local businesses was another example of Councils partnering together to achieve outstanding results for the region’s communities.
“It has also been implemented successfully elsewhere in Australia, based on the model that has been developed here in the Illawarra”.
The next program will begin 5 September and includes workshop sessions on strategy formulation, financial management, customer relationship management, digital strategy, online marketing and advanced marketing techniques.
Applications close 18 August. Contact Shellharbour City Council’s Economic Development Unit on 4221 6041.
Media enquiries: Kelli Wells 4221 6038 or 0448 361 008.