Venture helps government ‘act locally’

Article image - Venture helps government ‘act locally’ Launching the Buy Local Project Northern Rivers are (l-r) Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell, Northern NSW Local Health District Chief Executive Chris Crawford, Lismore MP Thomas George, Lismore City Council Manager Economic Development Mark Batten and General Manager Gary Murphy, NSW Business Chamber Regional Manager John Murray, ICN Deputy Director Peter Webster and University Centre for Rural Health Director, Professor Lesley Barclay AO. Dubbed an ‘online dating service’ for government and business, the Buy Local Project Northern Rivers procurement portal is an Australian first.

The Northern NSW Local Health District, Lismore City Council and the University Centre for Rural Health have joined forces to create the Buy Local Project Northern Rivers, which has the potential to keep business contracts worth millions of dollars in the region each year.

In essence, the Buy Local Project is a huge online noticeboard that enables government departments to easily source products and services locally without looking further afield.

The Buy Local Project Northern Rivers is run by the Industry Capability Network (ICN), a not-for-profit, state government-funded service that has around $247 billion worth of projects listed.

This is the first time in ICN’s 30-year history that big purchasers have teamed up to create a regional procurement portal.

Lismore City Council’s Manager Economic Development, Mark Batten, said the project was a first not just for regional Australia, but for Australasia.
 “It’s this sort of innovation, it’s this sort of bold personal leadership, that defines a sustainable and durable economy.

“Locally owned and operated small businesses are the long-term wealth creators for communities large and small. That’s simply because most of their profits stay where they are generated.”

Mr Batten said the Buy Local Project was free for businesses to join and would only take 10 minutes of their time.

“Businesses simply create a company profile and should a tender for that person’s expertise or products become available, they receive an email and therefore an opportunity to tender. It’s that simple.

“This is an exciting project that could have a massive financial ripple effect for our community.”

Several local contracts have been awarded since the launch of the Buy Local Project, with more tenders being placed on the portal every day. Local companies can often provide competitive quotes due to freight advantages but in the past had not had the opportunity to tender.

Council’s IT Manager Garth Hayhurst said the most recent tender for $4000 worth of data projectors was one small example of the online tool in action.

“We would have simply bought the goods from our previous supplier in Queensland because we thought we had the best deal with them. We were very happy to be proven wrong.

“It opened my eyes to the fact that there are several companies locally who can provide these services and that they are competitive with bigger, metro-based companies.”