Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The Next Economy (TNE) was established in March 2018 to support communities struggling with change to build regional economies that are good for both people and planet. 

Since then, TNE has worked with government, industry and community groups in key regional areas to identify opportunities to explore the emerging economic opportunities in acting on climate change by reducing and absorbing carbon emissions across all sectors, and in regenerating land and water resources. 

One of the charitable purposes under TNE’s ACNC registration is the advancement of education. They work in the areas of environmental sustainability and economic development, with a strong focus on rural and regional communities.

In August 2018, TNE partnered with FRRR to establish a Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account to specifically support the educational component of TNE’s activities and their capacity to enable the educational programs to be delivered for the benefit of regional Australians. 

The Fundraising Account considerably enhanced their ability to receive donations from DGR-2 endorsed entities, bequests, and corporate philanthropy. This has enabled TNE to put in place strong systems, policies and procedures to support its ongoing development and delivery of workshops to strengthen the capacity of people working in regional communities across Australia to manage economic change and support the transition to a fairer, zero emissions economy. Funding received through the FRRR donations account has also enabled the delivery of 15 workshops and forums in communities across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.  

TNE offers two main educational training programs: 

  1. A year-long incubator program called Building the Next Economy: Thriving in a Changing World (BNE). The BNE program aims to support people working for regional councils and economic development agencies to identify, research, and implement new economic initiatives. By the end of the year-long program, each region will have developed comprehensive plans for how they will transition to a stronger, fairer and more resilient economy, as well as investment-ready business cases for key initiatives. 
  2. The Transitioning Australia Program. The Transitioning Australia Program is a short course on managing economic change aimed at local councils and others which raises awareness of the range of economic opportunities that are available to communities willing to reduce their carbon emissions. This program will be delivered across eight regional communities in year one and grow as capacity increases – it operates as a fee for service to councils, but fees are able to be varied for other not-for-profit groups. 

The materials generated through both programs will be used to deliver other activities, such as short courses, presentations, workshops and online learning (webinars and podcasts, for example).

The outcome of the education programs includes a stronger partnership and collaboration network locally, which aid in building sustainability.

The Next Economy programs give participants adaptive skills, critical thinking and produce tangible projects that achieve on ground impact. TNE is filling a niche need for accessible education on community-based economic models and clean energy systems, and purposefully aiming to cross cultural and socio-economic boundaries.

Support the work of TNE by donating here.

Grow Lightly Connect (GLC) was established in response to the lack of locally grown produce available to local consumers and, conversely, the lack of local outlets available to local growers.

The group has developed a strong presence in the local community since it set up in 2015, establishing a food hub and developing a network of local consumers and producers who share their vision of southern Gippsland being enabled to feed itself. But it was time to grow.

The GLC Growing Together project was focused on further increasing access to locally grown food, improving health outcomes in the community and contributing to a more robust local economy. With their $5,000 grant, they were able to fund a consultant to undertake market research on the feasibility and requirements of this expansion, and the development of a business plan. 

Extensive community consultation across Southern Gippsland highlighted places where there was interest in local produce but no ready access. GLC developed a bulk sales program for enterprises wanting to use local produce, which now regularly supplies 13 customers. Six are located on Phillip Island, which has traditionally had limited access to fresh, locally-grown food. 

The bespoke online ordering system that was developed for the bulk sales program now also handles the weekly orders for the vegie bags, which go out to around 35 families every week. These are packed and despatched from the new Grow Lightly Green Grocer shop in the main street of Korumburra, which is open six days a week.

GLC’s Chairman Gil Freeman says there’s still room for further growth, but the issue is finding the time to build the business. 

“There are now more than 100 small growers contributing to the social enterprise, in addition to the 15 larger-scale growers. The more extensive network of local outlets is also providing local growers with greater economic security.”