A cross regional collaboration between the Wheatbelt Business Network, Ravensthorpe Community Resource Centre and Hopetoun Community Resource Centre has delivered a new business network to the Fitzgerald region.
“With the emergence of the Fitzgerald Biosphere as a region in its own right, it had become apparent to the participating CRCs that there was a big gap in the kind of support a business network or Chamber of Commerce provides and how well suited the concept was for delivery through the local CRCs,” Gabrielle Major, FBN co-founder.
The Wheatbelt Business Network (WBN) neighbours the Fitzgerald region, but traditionally serves small to medium businesses, not for profits and government in the geographical area from Northam in the west, Dalwallinu in the north, Southern Cross in the east and Dumbleyung in the south.
“The WBN was approached by Gabrielle Major requesting we work closely with the two CRCs to help establish a business network for businesses in the Fitzgerald region” said Caroline Robinson, WBN CEO.
“We were delighted to share our learnings into how we established the WBN, what has worked well, what has challenged us, who we work with and the services we offer. We are not a traditional Chamber of Commerce because we serve a whole region, not just one town or community, so there was a natural synergy into what the two CRCs were seeking to achieve”
The Fitzgerald Business Network (FBN) is an initiative of the Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun Community Resource Centres. The purpose of the Network is to connect businesses across the Fitzgerald Biosphere, deliver business support and information as well as advocate on behalf of its members. It is anticipated that Bremer Bay and Jerramungup CRCs will be incorporated into the network in early 2022.
With support from the WBN, the FBN was incorporated and a governance structure established, so too a website and jobs platform which was designed by WBN member Constructive Visual. The FBN leadership team was also successful in securing foundational funding from FQM, MACA, Galaxy and Medallion Metals as well as a Technology & Innovation Grant from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
“The FBN has held a number of well-attended Business After Hours, workshops and Mining Business Information sessions as well as Shop Local campaigns” said Gabrielle. “With 110 members and counting, we are already seeing the benefits of a connected business community and all the opportunities that arise out of that. We’ve also seen an increase in interest in our region from further afield which is really pleasing.”
“We are so proud of the two CRCs for having the foresight and enthusiasm to pursue a network” said Caroline. “FBN is an outstanding initiative that will have an immediate benefit to the businesses in the Fitzgerald area as well as a lasting one”
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