Working Towns promote development

Working Towns, an amalgamation of the former Regional Towns and Community at Work programs, is assisting South Australian communities to stimulate economic growth and employment by capitalising on local knowledge. Operating through Regional Development Boards, which include Local Government representatives, local businesses and community groups, the program funds initiatives which stimulate local economic development.

Proposals for funding must conform to the criteria of the Regional Development Boards to fit with local strategic objectives. Lyn McEvoy from the SA Department of Education Training and Employment said any incorporated community group can apply for funding, but where there is no incorporated body Council can step in as a partner to the proposal.

The Department is aiming to fund a minimum of 40 projects in its first year. "They are to be locally centred, bring long term economic benefits and represent a partnership between Councils, the Regional Development Boards, community groups and businesses," she said.

At Barunga West Council, Working Towns funding is being used to identify ways in which local businesses can improve their prospects through cooperative efforts. It is also contributing to tourism promotion through improved integration of existing attractions and better promotion of the area's attributes.

Another project already approved is that of the Snowtown Action Group which aims to address a steady population decline and dwindling services. Bypassed by the highway and experiencing the same issues as other rural areas, the town has also had to deal with the notoriety of having murder victims discovered in the town.

The Action Group plan to convert this into a positive seizing the opportunity offered by its raised profile to plan events which will attract tourists to the area. Together with the promotion of new businesses, reopening of the rail line to Wallaroo and fund raising events, the aim is to give the town new direction and boost morale.

Environmental Services Manager with Port Wakefield Council, Robert Veitch, said this has largely been an initiative of the community with Council offering financial and in kind support as financial administrator. He said without this funding local action groups would struggle to achieve projects which are helping to revitalise and stimulate economic growth in local communities.

For further information contact Lyn McEvoy, telephone (08) 8226 2356.