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We had a chat with Malcolm Wallis, Tourism and Economic Development Officer at Kyogle Council, about some of the challenges facing the region. Malcolm talks about initiatives in the area helping local businesses stay up to date with the 21st century.

Organisation Overview

The Kyogle council area is located in Northern NSW, with a population of approximately 10,000 people spread out through rural areas and serviced by a number of small centres and the main commercial centre of Kyogle. Traditionally the local economy has been sustained by primary industries, but in recent times a growing tourism industry has become a significant supporter. The retail trade is mostly reliant on the local community.

What changes have you noticed with the emergence of digital technologies?

We know that regional businesses all too often become the victims of local economy leakage and watch day after day as dollars physically leave the town in vehicles to larger centres. What we do not see is the money leaving town via the world wide web. Because of this issue we know we need to answer the following questions:

  • How do we combat this and how do we use the World Wide Web to our advantage?
  • How many dollars could be coming into the Local Economy via the World Wide Web?
  • How many dollars will physically arrive if we developed better and more consistent marketing messages to our two highest visitor groups (South East Queensland and the Northern Rivers)?

Local customers are seeking convenience, lower pricing and diversity of product range. The reach of online shopping is growing and as a result its popularity is growing in remote areas. It is becoming clear that retail in our region needs to catch up with the 21st century!

What does Kyogle have planned to adapt to these changes?

We see the need for cooperative marketing campaigns involving retail, dining and entertainment which can be marketed online to entice visitors to participate in a whole day experience. We are also creating initiatives to encourage local entities to embrace online social media marketing. We feel this will allow the retail sector to communicate directly to new market segments.

Starting May this year, we will be running an innovative project in conjunction with Kyogle High School and local businesses called ‘Adopt a Business’. The program partners local IT students with local businesses to help them get started with social media. The project runs under the guidance of Social How To Media, and as a result businesses will develop social media and web-based marketing strategies to include in their business plans. Furthermore, we are equipping the local youth with real-life business and online experience which will no doubt pay dividends in the future.

We hope that through projects like these we can develop a stronger and more entrepreneurial body of business across all local industry sectors.