Grow My Business participants pictured with Ray Clark (Optim Improvement) and Cr Jane Greacen OAM

East Gippsland Shire Council’s Grow Your Business Group Program has celebrated its best results in its four year history, with this year’s participating businesses making a collective $5.4 million in productivity improvements.

The Grow Your Business Group Program 2022 delivered simple, measurable and effective business improvement training opportunities at no cost to the businesses. 

Multiple employees from each business participated in the course, which centred around group learning and incorporating individual projects focused on real business needs to transfer learning into their business.

Marking the end of this year’s program at an event on 27 July were eleven participating businesses including Wood Street Windows, ZCG and Kennedy Trailers.

The program is part of the Australian Small Business Improvement Groups (ASBIG) model and was delivered by OPTIM Improvement.

East Gippsland councillor, Jane Greacen OAM, attended on behalf of the Mayor and said Council recognises the importance the manufacturing sector plays in supporting the East Gippsland economy.

“Manufacturing is one of East Gippsland’s largest sectors with a number of very important small and medium size manufacturing businesses supporting our economy. To implement changes that have saved these businesses a combined $5.4 million is incredible,” Cr Greacen said.

“It was terrific to recognise the work of ASBIG supporting East Gippsland businesses to review and refine their operations systems. 

“The feedback we’ve had from the participants about the impact it has made on their individual businesses is very positive,” Cr Greacen said.

Cr Greacen said Council was very pleased with the level of engagement from the participants.

“We appreciate the commitment from the businesses involved in the program – especially in these trying times where the pandemic and isolation requirements posed challenges the program had never seen before.”

Kennedy Trailers’ Lynden Kennedy said the program was a great alternative to the full lean manufacturing course he had completed in the past.

“This course was all the big lean manufacturing concepts and ideas in a much shorter, concentrated course. It works really well for bringing new employees up to speed quickly, while keeping the company lean and innovative for the future,” Mr Kennedy said.

Wood Street Windows’ Julie Barling said her business was always evolving and inviting outside knowledge as it is an ever changing and demanding industry.

“It has been fantastic to be a part of the ASBIG training program.  The staff have gained a lot of knowledge and have grown in confidence in making and implementing change in our environment, using tools learnt from the course,” Ms Barling said.

Workshop facilitator, Ray Clark from Optim Improvement, said the course had four false starts in 2021 due to COVID-19 induced lockdowns.

“We eventually started with an online program via Zoom for the businesses that wanted to start making improvements immediately. In 2022, the businesses suffered from labour shortages, sickness and isolating and the inability to recruit new employees,” Mr Clark said.

Council hopes to continue similar small business programs to further assist local industries into the future, by enabling businesses to learn the necessary skills and techniques to optimise their businesses through simple actions that require little capital investment.  


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