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Why does Mallee Rising exist?

Mallee Rising is a launchpad for entrepreneurs in northwestern Victoria and south west New South Wales. By offering a co-working space Mallee Rising encourages home-based businesses to broaden their horizons and meets the needs of travelling business people needing an office environment and out-of-town organisations requiring a ‘pop-up’ space or short to medium term business location.

The provision of affordable business mentoring and the delivery of regular workshops to increase business knowledge and digital literacy helps local businesses grow and prosper and creates community growth and resilience.

Situational analysis

Location

Mallee Rising’s co-working hub is located at Swan Hill, a city in the northwest of Victoria on the Murray Valley Highway and on the south bank of the Murray River. At the 2016 census, Swan Hill had a population of 10,905 and 2,480 businesses (ABS 2015).

The social enterprise delivers services across the region, within which there are 6,114[2] small businesses (PWC 2018).

Skills shortage

According to the Victorian Skills Commissioner’s Regional Skills Demand Profile – Mallee:

  • The Loddon Mallee has a shortage of skills in customer service, digital marketing and visual merchandising.

  • The Loddon Mallee region has a shortage of training and support for small business. This can be resolved by the development of short in-location courses for small business to upskill.

  • There local is a shortage of skills in customer service, digital media and small business skills (including product development). This could be resolved with short in-location training.

  • There is a shortage of training and support for locals starting their own business in hospitality. This could be resolved with short in-location training.

Digital skills

According to PWC’s digital innovation work:

  • There are 6,114 small businesses in the Mallee.

  • The economic output of the region’s small businesses is $1,889 million, representing 36 per cent of all economic output in the Mallee.

  • Small business use of mobile and internet technology is currently limiting their ability to reach their full digital potential.

  • Mallee's small businesses can unlock an additional $254 million of private sector output over the next ten years from better use of internet and mobile technology; approximately $41,500 per small business.

  • Key industries that stand to gain the most from better use of internet technology are: information media and telecommunications, education and training, health care and social assistance, mining, and financial and insurance services.

Education

The region’s rates of school completion fall short of Victorian rates. Year 12 completion in the Loddon Mallee Region is approximately 35% compared with 50% for Victoria (RDV, 2014)

General

In preparing our strategic plan Mallee Rising consulted with industry and community. Feedback includes:

  • Many school leavers lack employability skills.

  • Digital literacy is quite low in the Mallee (“I’m not really techy”).

  • Local school principals would like teachers to incorporate more digital tech into their classrooms.

  • Local business success, innovation and tech could be better celebrated.

  • Most local retailers are not active in the digital ecosystem / online selling.

  • Many sporting clubs and community groups are keen to establish a more professional online presence, but skills rest with volunteers who come and go.

  • Often customers that are on a business trip need a working space.

  • Workshop venue hire will attract workshops and meetings to the region.