18/10/2005 - 22:00

Plugging in to a new network

18/10/2005 - 22:00

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The number of Small Business Enterprise Centres in Western Australia has been cut from 35 to 26 and renamed the Small Business Centre Network, following a review and restructure by the State Government.

Plugging in to a new network

The number of Small Business Enterprise Centres in Western Australia has been cut from 35 to 26 and renamed the Small Business Centre Network, following a review and restructure by the State Government.

Small Business Minister John D’Orazio announced the final details of the restructure, including a $900,000 funding boost, to parliament last week.

Mr D’Orazio said the restructure aimed to provide better services and access for small business.

Under the changes, 26 BECs will be funded through five zones – north west, central, metropolitan, south west and southern.

Of these, the central zone will have five centres, while there will be four in each of the south west and southern zones, six in the north west and seven in the metropolitan zone.

Mr D’Orazio also announced a 24 per cent increase in recurrent core funding for the network.

This includes a new annual $174,000 allocation to enable centres to coordinate their personnel, services and market development activities across the network, and a one-off allocation of $185,000 for capital equipment including IT, communications and vehicles.

Two specialist centres will be created, one focusing on Indigenous small business (Derby) and another on the clothing and textile sector (Belmont).

The new guidelines give 74 per cent of funding to non-metropolitan centres and each centre will enter into an agreement with the State Government with the requirement that its services are accessible to all small businesses in its area.

For some centres, Mr D’Orazio said, this would mean a shift from a town or shire-based focus.

The change will mean new names for several centres.

The new arrangements will be in place by January 1 2006. This is about three years after the Small Business Development Corporation commissioned a report on the structure and operation of the state’s 35 BECs.

The SBDC commissioned the report to identify ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the delivery of small business support services.

Consultation has been ongoing since a draft restructure was released in June, resulting in a reallocation of some funds for BECs. These included $20,000 to the Southern Wheatbelt SBC (Narrogin) from the Great Southern SBC (Albany), and $10,000 to the Mid-West SBC (Geraldton) from Eastern Districts SBC (Corrigin).

Mr D’Orazio said an extra $200,000 had been allocated to the network’s recurrent funding beyond 2005-06 so the new level of core funding was maintained.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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