SA Mines and Energy Journal : October-November 09
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 SA MINES & ENERGY JOURNAL 37 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Businesses looking for emerging opportunities in the SA resources sector are turning to a government-funded business advisory service for assistance. Up until about five years ago, South Australia had only five operating mines; now it has 10 and the figure is expected to double within 18 months -- and that is not considering the possible expansion of Olympic Dam. With this rapid growth comes opportunities for small to medium-sized businesses supplying equipment and services to the mining sector, provided they are ready to meet the challenges. For the past two years, Enterprise Connect has been quietly making a name for itself working with subject matter experts (SMEs) across a range of industry sectors by providing business reviews at no cost to firms and then helping them access matching government assistance to implement the recommendations in those reviews. The business reviews are carried out by a team of business professionals posted around Australia. So far, more than 500 reviews have been completed and more than 800 underway. These services are delivered to the mining sector through Enterprise Connect's Mining Technology Innovation Centre (MTIC), which works with SMEs in businesses that receive a substantial portion of their revenue directly or indirectly from mining, oil and gas companies, for the provision of goods and services. Although the MTIC is based in Mackay, Queensland, a specialist business adviser, Mark Osborne, is based in Adelaide to look after SA's burgeoning mining and energy sector. Mr Osborne works with SMEs to provide sector-specific strategic and tactical business advice aimed at improving business processes, testing new products, finding new markets, and accessing other government programs and grants. Because he is part of the Enterprise Connect network, he is also able to tap into the expertise of more than 90 other business advisers around Australia to get advice and establish links with businesses in other sectors. Underground mining equipment manufacturer Normet Asia-Pacific is one company that has completed a business review with Mr Osborne. Normet Regional Director Bill Reid said undertaking the review was a valuable exercise. "The review highlighted the strengths and some important weaknesses in our business processes, " he said. "It also had the effect of focusing staff in the organisation at all levels on the need for change and the processes by which that change would occur. "As part of the review, Mark facilitated a quite exhaustive international benchmark exercise which has proved to be a great catalyst for change in our organisation, and a validation of what we have achieved to date. The management team now has a heightened sense of what we need to do, both as a team and as individual managers, and the review provided directions for how it can be achieved. "We are determined to ensure we carry them the recommendations, to use the downturn period as a time to build our capacity and our efficiency. " To be eligible for Enterprise Connect assistance, firms must have an Australian company number, a turnover of more than $1.5 million and have been trading solvently for at least three years. Grants of up to $20,000 on a 50/50 basis with the firm are made available, to help firms engage consultants to implement the recommendations. Applications can be made online and will only take about 20 minutes to complete. They will be assessed and businesses will be informed of the outcome within 48 hours. Further information is available by visiting www. enterpriseconnect.gov.au, by calling the Enterprise Connect Hotline on 131 791 or contacting Mark Osborne on 0420 961 294. Opportunity knocks Business reviews can help small firms meet the challenges of the burgeoning resources sector. The review highlighted strengths and some important weaknesses Normet Asia-Pacific carried out a business review with Enterprise Connect.