Burnie: the Online City of the Future

Facing similar problems of most rural and regional areas in Australia, Burnie in Tasmania needed to urgently address the economic and social repercussions resulting from the recent downsizing of its major industry, pulp and paper production.

With a population of 20,000 but servicing a region of 75,000 residents, Burnie City Council is now one of the area's major employers. At the same time, the community turned to Council to provide leadership in finding opportunities for new directions.

"We knew Burnie offered an excellent lifestyle and good business opportunities, but we needed to establish a competitive advantage that would attract new businesses here and enhance our existing business," said Burnie's General Manager, Peter Brooks.

Council identified information technology and the telecommunications industry as an opportunity for growth and new job creation. "We are proud of our industrial past, but Council recognises it must now move on, therefore our theme, 'Burnie: the Online City of the Future'," Peter Brooks said.

Through Commonwealth Government funding of $500,000 and then securing a redundant building from the State Government, Burnie has established a Regional Small Business Incubator. Council has invested an additional $200,000 in this project.

To be officially opened on 5 December 1999, this complex has the capacity to house up to 35 new enterprises. To date six are in the process of seeking tenancy.

In partnership with a Western Australian Company, Paradox Digital, satellite communications have been installed at the Incubator. The prominent satellite dish provides a clear message that Burnie is very much a part of the Information Age.

"We have provided facilities that are extremely attractive to organisations wanting to do business electronically via the Internet," Peter Brooks said.

In a further strategic partnership with the private sector, Council is working with an international IT company. Providing quality software solutions for business, Canberra based INTEC Australia has recently established its national electronic commerce section in Burnie.

Using a new E-Commerce Centre, located in the Incubator, this important partnership between Council and INTEC provides not only new technology for business and industry in the region, but also electronic management processes for Burnie City Council's own operations.

E-Commerce alliance a winner

The alliance between Burnie City Council and INTEC Australia will result in Council's new Regional Small Business Incubator providing a range of E-Commerce services to Tasmania, interstate and international businesses.

In establishing a national electronic commerce base in Burnie's Incubator, INTEC Australia has provided a further shot in the arm for Council's economic development strategy centred on the electronic age. "From INTEC's point of view these are the sort of opportunities we look for, people who share our vision," said Andrew Goodlace, Managing Director of INTEC Australia.

Council's community based Regional Employment Development Initiative (REDI) manages the Incubator. "INTEC's move provides an important link with new technology for business and industry in the region," said REDI Chairperson, Deputy Mayor Jim Altimira.

For INTEC Australia, having only recently established their electronic commerce division in the last nine months, this alliance with Burnie provides the infrastructure and support services required to roll out a number of web based electronic services targeted for release this year. "The move into electronic commerce was a natural step for us and we are extremely excited at the opportunities the alliance with Burnie brings to both parties," Andrew Goodlace said.

INTEC's Electronic Commerce Director, Alleyne Ski, said that the Company's business to business E-Commerce philosophy includes working closely with 'hubs', such as Burnie City Council, to ensure the success of any E-Commerce initiatives and the development of a growing trading community.

"The Tasmanian Government sees the innovative use of information technology as offering enormous benefits for local communities as well as the State's economy," said Steven Kons, Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Premier. "The alliance announced today fits closely with the Government's priority of supporting and encouraging the take up of E-Commerce initiatives in the State."

For further information contact Alleyne Ski, EC Director, INTEC Australia on (02) 6273 7333

Click here to visit the Burnie City Council web site