North Coast

Before we go, a recap of 2021

The year that was with RDA Northern Rivers

As we come to the end of another year it feels amazing how far we’ve managed to reach out across our region and beyond. It’s been great to connect with local business and industry and work with other RDAs, business organisations, government agencies and stakeholders to deliver projects for the Northern Rivers.

Here are some highlights of how we connected with you.

AusFAC 2021
We started the year with the Australian arm of the Global Future Agro Challenge. This event brought together six innovative agripreneurs from across Australia to compete in a pitch like no other. We also attracted investors who were keen to see the next big innovation in agtech.

The event kicked off with a welcoming cocktail evening that gave us a chance to meet our competitors, judges and sponsors over local bush food cocktails at Harvest in Newrybar.

The main event was held on Saturday 20 March at the Byron Community Centre, where our competitors brought their innovation to the stage. It was a tough call but the winner was InvertiGrow, an innovative verticle growing ‘pod’. While there could be only one winner, we honour all finalists and their innovation.

IT Meet-ups
We began this year with a focus on connecting local ICT professionals through industry Meet-up groups. While COVID put the breaks on these plans but we did manage to hold two meetups before restrictions kicked in.

The IT sector has a high number of startups and solo worker so, it was great to start to build connections and explore how we can continue to support our local IT professionals. These events were supported by nbn Co.

In April we supported the first Lismore IT Meetup. A small but enthusiastic group of local IT professionals contributed to a lively discussion with nbn Co. and Training NSW around how services and training can meet the need of the industry.

In May we continued to connect with Northern Rivers IT professionals in a meetup with the Byron VR group. This is a highly innovative group of practitioners that are pushing the boundaries in VR technology. We’ll be watching out for development from this group.

Business Leaders Lucheons
We hosted two luncheons for local business leaders in the Tweed and Richmond Valley this year. These lunches provided great opportunities for businesses to connect and gave us valuable guidance for our future direction in supporting business growth in the region.

The first Business Leaders luncheon was held in the Tweed in June. Local business leaders enjoyed an insightful presentation by Andrew Bridger of AIG and discussions about what local business wants for the future and what we can achieve together. Our second luncheon was held in the Richmond Valley in November.

We look forward to more opportunities to connect with local business leaders in 2022.

RDA National Forum
Deputy Chair Dr Susan Vinnicombe and DRD Tim Williamson held the torch for RDA Northern Rivers at the RDA National Forum held on 16 & 17 June. The forum provides a great opportunity to connect with Federal Ministers and Members and to network with other RDA’s

Tourism & Hospitality Industry Forum
We partnered with Business NSW and Training NSW to host a tourism and hospitality industry forum in November.

The focus of the forum centred on staffing and the current challenges facing the industry. We also launched the concurrent Summer of Jobs, Summer Skills and Skills Road youth employment projects that are targeting young people for sector employment through training, career advice and connecting employers to job seekers.

Byron Studios Tour & End of Year Celebration
Byron Studios has much to celebrate with significant growth in the Northern Rivers screen industry in recent years.

In 2016 RDA-NR hosted a meeting to kickstart collaboration between businesses, industry support organisations and government representatives to develop a local screen precinct. An industry report and five years later it’s great to see the realisation of the Byron Studios with plans approved for the new studio precinct to be built in Ballina LGA.

Employment projects
In 2020 we released the North Coast Employment Strategy with RDA Mid North Coast. This year we continued to lead or support employment projects with a number of collaborative partners, including Training services NSW skills broker and REIP teams and the Education Pathways Pilot Program industry advisory committee.

We are connecting employers and job seekers in the Summer of Jobs, utilising the My Future Workforce Platform. This has also been a great opportunity to continue to work with Training NSW and Business NSW to provide young jobseekers with pathways to skills and employment while meeting the employment needs of local industry.

Other projects include the Northern Rivers Regional Strategic Plan 2025, to be launched in early 2022, and connecting Northern Rivers businesses and innovators engaged with green hydrogen to create the Northern Rivers Hydrogen Group. We continue to keep this group connected to hydrogen opportunities through the NewH2 hydrogen project based in Hunter.

We’ve continued to engage with the development of our region through
• Northern Rivers Together (the Northern Rivers NSW Brand)
• Cross Border Taskforce
• Tweed Valley Rail Trail Steering Committee
• National Priority Fund – an RDA collaboration
• Australian Infrastructure National Priority fund – RDA played a lead regional role for the new Infrastructure Australia Strategy
• Performing Arts Economic Impact Northern Rivers Creative Industry
• Sustain Energy Working Group

We’ve given our support to
• Northern Rivers Joint Organisation
• Healthy North Coast COVID 19 Vaccine rollout
And we’ve enjoyed connecting with many businesses over the region during difficult times.
• Inland Growth Summit Housing 2021 – 13 August
• EDA conference

From the team at RDA Northern Rivers, take care, stay safe and most of all enjoy the holidays. Looking forward to reconnecting in 2022.