Food, fashion and start-ups: business growth in the Northern Rivers

Jane Laverty will be the new Regional Manager of the NSW Business Chamber in the Northern Rivers in February 2017.
Jane Laverty will be the new Regional Manager of the NSW Business Chamber in the Northern Rivers in February 2017. Courtesy of Jane Laverty

EMPLOYMENT diversity for young people, artisan food exports, creative industry expansion and start-up companies will all take priority for the new head of business in the Northern Rivers.

Byron Shire Council Economic Development and Tourism Co-ordinator Jane Laverty has confirmed she will take over as Regional Manager for the NSW Business Chamber in the Northern Rivers in February.

"I'm very excited," she said Tuesday, "I'm a passionate advocate of partners in business and delivering opportunities for industry growth."

Ms Laverty listed Conferencing Byron and Byron Region Food Advantage as two projects she was proud to have led during her time working for Council.

Conferencing Byron aimed to develop Byron's capacity to host conferences for more than 200 delegates while BRFA was a campaign promoting Byron's artisan food industry, directed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

"We'll certainly have a focus on the food sector capability in the region," said Ms Laverty.

"The Northern Rivers food capability is strong and we'll be looking at exports of high quality gourmet artisan products."

Brook Farm was a leading business example, Ms Laverty said.

"They've grown out of being a home grown family business supplying local farmers markets to distributing their products world-wide," she said.

Creative industries would also command her attention, she said, highlighting "the likes of Spell [Designs], that creative sector around fashion and the like".

"We've got also start-up businesses and innovation; there's Startinno, who themselves are fostering and nurturing their entrepreneurship: they create 'ecosystems' for entrepreneurs to work together and they help them find 'angel investors'.

"We're looking for diversity of employment opportunity.

"Tourism is definitely an opportunity for the Northern Rivers but it's probably an area that needs less assistance.

"Overall, from the NSW Business Chamber, they're keen to work with all levels of government and drive forward youth employment generation and opportunities.

"We're looking at the 'Silver Tsunami' in a regional health industry, for example, where we're faced with an aging workforce.

"It's about developing good jobs for young people that can well utilise their skills into all areas including the health sector and we'll play a role where we can advocate with industry around those training needs."

NSW Business Chamber CEO Stephen Cartwright said "Jane has a strong track record of working successfully with industry and governments to grow employment, business and work opportunities in regional NSW."

"Her knowledge of regional business, chambers of commerce, and economic development is absolutely comprehensive, and makes her ideally suited to this role.

"Jane will work closely with the Northern Rivers Regional Advisory Council, as well as with the region's members, local chambers, and with the wider NSW Business Chamber to drive initiatives to benefit businesses in the Northern Rivers, and to make the region a strong and competitive place to do business."

Ms Laverty said she would miss working for Council but was looking forward to getting "much closer to businesses on the ground".

"I'd like to say how much I appreciate my time with Byron Council.

"I recognise the leadership of General Manager Ken Gainger and Mayor Simon Richardson and obviously the whole council staffing team who work hard to support their community."

Topics:  byron shire council chamber of commerce northern rivers

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