Saturday, July 08, 2006

Country Week 06: selling regional NSW

In my last post (Welsman, University of New England and Planning) I talked about the way in which an email from the UNE Alumni Office dealing with the future of UNE provided a link point across my various interests. During the week I also received another email with similar effects.

Peter Bailey emailed me that Country Week - - had brought a new web site on line. Now I think that this is important.

Peter has been a man with a dream. He has believed for a number of years that country Australia, all the areas outside the metro cities, must combine together to sell their story. As a first step, he launched Country Week in NSW.

Now this might all seem self-evident, at least to Australians. The metro markets are big and crowded. It is hard for any regional centre to get its story across. They are all just too small. So why not combine to sell the message?

The on-ground reality is very different. Regional centres find it very hard to combine because they see themselves in competition with each other. So they fragment and waste their resources.

On my companion blog site on the history of New England - - I have looked at some of the reasons why this is so in one area, at the way in which divide and rule - the factional system - has been used as a weapon.

One of the marvelous things about Peter, something that I admire enormously, is the way in which he has refused to admit defeat. Somehow he has managed to unify sufficient parts of non-metro NSW into a single promotion selling a credible story to those in Sydney. To do this, he travelled thousands of miles by car and plane, criss-crossing NSW constantly. Anybody less determined than Peter would have given up.

Ndarala became a major sponsor of Country Week in 2004. We did so in part because we had member practices providing a range of regional development services, in part because many of our members were in regional Australia. Our media centre - - contains a range of stories explaining our involvement.

This year's Country Week will be held in Sydney on 11-13 August. It provides a major opportunity to find out more about some of the opportunities offered by regional NSW.

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