In the middle of Melbourne’s outer-west region lies the most innovative thing I have seen in the entrepreneurial space here in Australia: a business incubator. Now, before you go calling the white coats and have me tested for insanity, I guarantee this business incubator is nothing like you have seen before. That’s because it is not just an incubator.
Start with ‘why?’
The Western Business Accelerator & Centre for Excellence (Western BACE) is what is known in economic development circles as a precinct activator. The $14.63-million, federally funded facility is purposely built in the city of Melton, 35 kilometres west of Melbourne, as part of the Toolern precinct development plan to help cater for the city’s future population growth.
CEO Mark Corrie, who managed the entire project before transitioning into the CEO role, describes the function of the BACE as primarily a job-creation strategy. Corrie states Melton has the lowest resident worker-to-local-jobs ratio of all the growth areas in Melbourne. Currently, for every 3.8 people who would like a job in the local area, there is only one available. “We exist because the area needs intervention to attract larger business investment into the area, and jobs come with larger businesses,” he says.
Corrie goes on to explain that the nature of private sector industry is that companies require a strong rate of return on investment.
“It’s much easier for them to build a business case to move into an area paying a yearly rent than injecting millions of dollars into building infrastructure. We’ve removed that barrier by doing all the heavy lifting for them.”
Develop what you have already
Attracting larger businesses is just one of the roles of the Western BACE; it is also designed to support small businesses to grow. Melton City Council recently discovered a high number of home-based businesses in the area, and it believes if supported correctly many of these businesses could grow larger to create more local jobs for the area.
For these businesses, the BACE has two specific programs available: a co-working hub for start-ups who want access to a collaborative environment through a ‘hot desk’ style space; and a business-accelerator program where already established businesses can get support to grow in terms of reduced-rate commercial space and access to special one-on-one sessions with business consultants.
So that covers the ‘Business Accelerator’ part of the Western BACE. Now let me take you through the ‘Centre for Excellence’ part, which truly blew my mind.
The full article can be downloaded below…