A SHOCK report released yesterday claims that our region could gain an extra $1.3 billion per year if businesses embraced digital technology.
The report, called the Northern Inland Digital Economy Strategy for Business, was launched at Paradise Fresh in Tamworth by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) chairman Mal Peters and Tamworth mayor Col Murray.
It found 86 per cent of businesses in our region don’t have a website, with one-third of those saying that lack of expertise, information and training were the biggest barriers to overcome.
But Paradise Fresh has had massive success online, with owner Brendon North urging businesses to use a website as a marketing tool.
The 66-page Northern Inland Digital Economy Strategy for Business looks at how local businesses and the 13 local councils in our region can best take advantage of high-speed broadband and online know-how to help grow the regional economy.
It has strong plans in place, the consultant who helped formulate the plan, Attentive Consulting chief executive officer Sam Austrin-Miner said.
“This strategy has not just analysed what needs doing, it has a road map to deliver ... so it gains traction down the road,” he said.
The report contains a 10-step checklist and recommends the establishment of an online economy taskforce with representation from the 13 councils.
It said there was a need to expand training to get more businesses online and that private-sector investment was needed.
Cr Murray said he was sure the Tamworth business community would embrace the strategy and see what assistance was available.
“This creates opportunities – and we need opportunities in our regional businesses,” he said.
Mr Peters said he couldn’t understand why more businesses weren’t online “and we know 47 per cent of people don’t have a digital strategy”, he said.
But he said 40 per cent of 65-year-olds were shopping online and that, by having a website, businesses could generate up to a 15 per cent increase in sales.
“These types of strategies are how you pick up the gauntlet and run with it.”
The strategy can be downloaded at www.rdani.org.au