Help us prepare the border for a digital economy

02 July 2013

Albury and Wodonga have joined forces to develop a Digital Economy Strategy for the region. The strategy will deliver a two-year timetable of initiatives that will help local businesses and the wider community take advantage of a world that is moving increasingly online.

A preliminary consultation process will commence on 8 July and business operators, residents and the wider community are being urged to participate in a series of workshops planned on both sides of the border. An online survey where business owners and residents can have their say about developing a strategy dedicated to digital economies is also available for completion.

Feedback gained throughout the process will be used as the basis for the Digital Economy Strategy, which will help the region prepare for the rapid advancements in online technology.

Bill Toole from Tooles Disposal is already ahead of the game by embracing digital technologies to transform his business operations. With roots in Wodonga extending back to 1929, Tooles Disposals had become one of High Street’s most prominent locations. But in the early 2000s Bill recognised the trend towards online trading and began selling his goods online, as well as in store.

Bill said that after the sale of the Tooles Disposals building and almost 10 years of trading online it made sense to change the direction of his retail business.

“I had to make the decision to move premises or begin selling exclusively online. Given that I had enjoyed success online, going completely digital with my business was the most viable option,” he said.

AlburyCity Director of Economic Development and Tourism Tracey Squire said it was vital that communities and businesses in Albury Wodonga were in a position to embrace the benefits of the digital world.

“Our economies are becoming increasingly digitised,” she said. “More people are browsing and buying goods and services online and the pressure is on organisations to respond accordingly.”

“The Digital Economy Strategy is an opportunity to understand how we are using digital technology in our daily lives, raise awareness of the digital world and to identify opportunities to build skills and capabilities. We want to ensure businesses and residents on both sides of the border are in a position to embrace everything available to them.”

“This strategy is about strengthening our community and making sure we are proactive and responsive to the benefits and opportunities presented by the digital world.”

With the National Broadband Network scheduled for roll out across Albury Wodonga in September, City of Wodonga Manager of Economic Development Matt Taylor said the time was right for businesses to embrace digital technologies.

“Up to 86% of Australian businesses don’t have a digital business strategy. This is Albury Wodonga’s chance to get ahead of the game and bring their business into the 21st Century,” he said.

“Businesses and the broader community will play a key role in developing a strategy that will ultimately guide and assist them. Both Albury and Wodonga Councils want the community to be involved from the start.”

Community Consultation
The Councils have engaged digital experts Attentive Consulting Pty Ltd to conduct wide consultation across the community and develop the Albury Wodonga Digital Economy Strategy. Business operators and residents are being urged to participate in the consultation process that will form the basis of the Digital Economy Strategy.

Wodonga Digital Awareness and Innovation Workshops
Business
Date: Monday 8 July
Time: 5.15 (networking), 5.30pm start
Location: Wodonga Council Chambers, 104 Hovell St, Wodonga

Community
Date: Tuesday 9 July
Time: 5.15 (networking), 5.30pm start
Location: Wodonga Council Chambers, 104 Hovell St, Wodonga

Albury Digital Awareness and Innovation Workshops
Community
Date: Wednesday 10 July
Time: 5.15 (networking), 5.30pm start
Location: Robert Brown Room, Albury City Council, 553 Kiewa St, Albury NSW 2640.

Business
Date: Thursday 11 July
Time: 5.15 (networking), 5.30pm start
Location: Robert Brown Room, Albury City Council, 553 Kiewa St, Albury NSW 2640.

Each participant will go in the draw to win a 128GB iPad Wi-Fi. To register for a workshop please email alburywodonga@attentiveconsulting.com.au

Online Survey
Businesses and residents are invited to contribute to the development of the local Digital Economy Strategies by completing a short online survey.

The survey is available at AlburyWodonga.DigitalEvocity.com and provides an opportunity for local residents and businesses to have their say on the future of the local digital economy.

The survey will help gauge the level of current digital activity across the area providing the foundation and context for the development of the Albury Wodonga Digital Economy Strategy. The survey will close at 5:00pm on Monday 22 July.

Statistics
- 94% of the Australian population has access to the internet
- 79% of Australians are online everyday, 60% are online multiple times a day
- Australians spend more than $30 Billion online every year, which is increasing every year
- 86% of Australian businesses don’t have a digital business strategy
- A Digital Economy Strategy developed in close consultation with the business community has the potential to generate an increase of up to 20% per annum in gross value to the regional economy.