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Economic summit builds a strong future

Monday 1 August 2016 Guest speakers at the economic summit

A dynamic smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country by the Gadhu Dancers from Bermagui Primary School, igniting two days of discussion at the Bega Valley Economic Summit, 28 and 29 July.

The impact of this inaugural event will be felt across the community as the region builds on the potential of the Port of Eden Development, Merimbula Airport expansion and international flights at Canberra Airport.

Mayor Michael Britten told the 115 delegates attending, that Council is aiming to help grow a diverse, vibrant, resilient and balanced economy for the future.

“Many events like this Summit are motivated by crises, not here,” he said.

“We have more investment in the Shire then every before, and the whole community is part of it.

“All development needs to be underpinned by a respect for our environment and for the Aboriginal community,” Cr Britten said.

Members of the Eden, Merimbula, Bega and Bermagui Chambers of Commerce played an active role on the Summit floor, making the most of the high calibre speakers that threw their support behind the event and the region.

Some of the stand out quotes over the two days:

“Our customer base has suddenly become global; it puts the Bega Valley on a level playing field.” Claire Madden, Founder of Hello Clarity, speaking about the NBN roll out in the region and international transport routes through Canberra Airport and the Port of Eden.

"Indigenous tourism is a major opportunity for any region that embraces it. No one is doing it especially well, opportunity knocks Bega Valley, the Bundian Way is the start of that.” Margy Osmond, the CEO of the Australian Tourism and Transport Forum.

“Collectively your power is so much greater, that is the great thing about the Bega Valley Economic Summit. I congratulate you for having the courage to do this, you will see the benefits.” Chris Jordan AO, Commissioner of Taxation, Australian Taxation Office.

“We are very lucky to have you (the Bega Valley) around us. By working together, we can grow opportunities for all our businesses.” Glenn Keys, Chair of the Canberra Business Chamber, Founder of Aspen Medical Services.

Practical support featured strongly during the two-day program.

The NSW Business Chamber, NSW Trade and Investment, and the NSW Department of Industry all sent senior officials to outline the financial and developmental support available to Bega Valley businesses.

The final session of the Summit on Friday featured a number of Bega Valley business and tourism leaders reflected on the two days.

The panel featured Aidan Coleman from Bega Cheese, Karen Lott from Sprout Eden, Anthony Osbourne from Sapphire Coast Tourism, John Stylianou from Tarra Motors and Josh McPaul from the Commonwealth Bank Bega.

All agreed that the Summit had reinforced the strategy the region had been working towards, around building connections with the Canberra market and improving tourism gateways like the Port of Eden and Merimbula Airport.

“But we need to keep advocating for the region,” Mr Osbourne said.

Leanne Barnes, General Manager, Bega Valley Shire Council said the Summit gave great impetus to Council’s Economic Development Strategy.

“People have formed networks out of this and have committed themselves to working together on common goals,” she said.

“For example, one group led by former Eden High School principal Paul Morris, is developing links between education and employment.

“Council is here to support that and keep the momentum going,” Ms Barnes said.

“Thank you to everyone who took part so whole heartedly.”

The opportunity to get involved is still there, contact Council’s Economic Development Manager, Shane O’Leary by emailing

Photograph: Margy Osmond CEO of the Tourism & Transport Forum, Chris Jordan AO Commissioner of Taxation, and Peter Switzer TV presenter, author and entrepreneur, were amongst the line-up of top quality speakers at the highly successful first ever Bega Valley Economic Summit


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