By Font Strategic Partner Paul Arnold
Our economic fortunes and consequential employment opportunities are driven largely by entrepreneurial vision. There is no better place than north west Tasmania to enjoy observing a large number of individuals who have shown the way in so many areas of economic prosperity. Some of the pioneers that we ‘own’ and celebrate include such luminaries as Milan Vynalek (Lactos Cheese), Roelf Vos (supermarkets), Engel Sypkes (Purity Supermarkets), Al Hansen (Tas Seafoods) and Jo Chromy (smallgoods) who in turn, have all made economic contributions that we all recognise as requiring amazing entrepreneurial ability. Their legacy continues to benefit the whole of Tasmania.
Today’s economy is well supported by new entrepreneurs, including Dale Elphinstone (manufacturing), Peter Greenham (Cape Grim Beef), and more recently, Bradley Watson (TDP Dairy Factory visionary). It is fair to say that the north west economy is peppered with lots of innovative businesses that are taking up the entrepreneurial challenge and this is clear in the agribusiness, aquaculture and food sector.
Peter Greenham is one outstanding example of a major success story. Converting the run down Smithton Abattoir from processing waste stream cull cows, to one of the world’s best-known meat producers. The Cape Grim Beef brand, has built an international reputation and subsequent market that is building insatiable international demand, which has turned Tasmania’s usual disadvantage into a sustainable competitive advantage for decades to come. A major conversion from the original intent of purchase was an entrepreneurial master stroke. A fabulous journey of learning, right there.
Make no mistake, the world needs Tasmania’s produce and more entrepreneurial development. Our clean image is what the world needs right now. Tasmania’s economic fortunes will ultimately depend on a new breed of entrepreneurs to take up the many challenges that we face in finding our place in the world.
There are many favourable signs across many sectors of agribusiness. These range from boutique industries such as Blue Hills honey, Cape Grim Water, Ashgrove, Bellamy’s, Ghost Rock vineyards, House of Anvers, and Hellyer’s Road Distillery. Aquaculture too is showing the way, with exciting developments such as Petuna Seafoods.
Despite all these major success stories, far too much produce is still ending up in bulk undistinguished products. There is a massive need for new entrepreneurs to take advantage of Tasmania’s sustainable competitive advantages in this new global marketing village. There is also a desperate need for venture capital for the many excellent ideas that are around the region.
The international uncertainty over recent weeks only serves to highlight the need for Tasmania to move towards identifying unique niche products and markets, if we are to prosper in a fast changing global market.