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RDA Northern Rivers was a collaborative partner for the Thinking Differently Summit, initiated by NSW Business Chamber – Northern Rivers and held in Ballina. This successful event brought together 140 of the regions business leaders to take a design thinking approach to growing jobs for our local young people and growing business innovation.

The Summit was led by keynote speaker Mark McCrindle. Mark is a social analyst with an international following and a special interest in the multi-generational workforce, engaging Gen Y and emerging generations. He identified the Northern Rivers as a growth area that is “well-resourced with a variety of industries and educations, but it’s a matter of joining all those opportunities together.” The focus, he said, is about creating “small businesses, vibrant employment hubs and trades skills opportunities so we can retain young people.”

A panel discussion included young people Holly Somerville Knott of Tell Someone Who Cares and Youth Mentor and Change Agent Elias Johnson. Other speakers and panelists at the event were Jane Laverty from the NSW Business Chamber – Northern Rivers, Jan Owen from the Foundation for Young Australians, Helen Willoughby from Dept. of Jobs and Small Business, Chika Anyanwu from Southern Cross University and Vaughan MacDonald, the General Manager of Richmond Valley Council.

The Thinking Differently Summit included the launch of the Northern Rivers Entrepreneurs Fund, an inaugural program to support the development of concepts and solutions that can value add to existing businesses or enable new start-ups.

Other partners in the project were the Australian Government’s Department of Jobs & Small Business, NSW Government Dept of Premier & Cabinet and Dept. of Industry, Northern Rivers Joint Organisation, Design Farm Collective, Tursa Employment and Training, Southern Cross University, Sourdough, AusIndustry and CareSuper.


Thinking differently summit

Jane Laverty, NSW Business Chamber Northern Rivers, Mark McCrindle, McCrindle Research, Holley Somerville Knott, Tell Someone Who Cares, Elias Johnson, Youth Mentor and Agent of Change, Jan Owen, Foundation for Young Australians, Chika Anyanwu, Southern Cross University, Helen Willoughby, Dept. of Jobs and Small Business and Vaughan MacDonald, Richmond Valley Council with our Director of Regional Development, Tim Williamson (second from right).

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