RDALC launches “Expert Connection” program for Small Businesses navigating through COVID recovery

July 31, 2020

Small businesses across the Limestone Coast are invited to complete a short survey that will assist in the development of a new small business support program called ‘Expert Connection’. Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) are developing this new initiative in response to the severe impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses across the region. Expert Connection is an expansion of RDALC’s existing one-on-one business support program and will provide small businesses significantly impacted by COVID-19 with free expert, professional advice.

“Through the one-on-one work we currently do with small businesses, we know how devastating COVID-19 has been across our region and we know that this pandemic has thrown up a lot of hard questions that we can’t always answer” said Rachael Ashman, Manager, Business and Workforce Development. “We have also heard from many small business owners and operators that they simply cannot afford to pay for professional advice at this time”.

“We want our small businesses to have all the support they can while they are trying to operate in such an uncertain environment, especially when the disruption is far from over. To make sure that we connect our small businesses to the right experts, we are asking owners and operators across the region to complete our survey, to tell us what they really need” said Ms Ashman. “This might be access to a qualified bookkeeper, accountant or digital consultant – someone to answer the technical questions and provide advice that will give some of our small businesses answers to those hard questions” she said.

Once RDALC have gathered the survey feedback, the program will be finalised and the delivery of free expert, professional advice will commence to those small business owners and operators in need.

This expert, professional advice and support will be free as RDALC will fully fund up to 3 hours access for participating small businesses. Businesses interested in participating in the program will be able to express their interest once the program is finalised.

If you would like to know more about our existing Small Business Support, please contact Rachael Ashman, Manager, Business and Workforce Development on 0439 848 624 or email

To complete the survey, please click here.

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Rail could save more than $15m a year in local freight costs

March 12, 2020

Reinstatement of a freight rail service between Mount Gambier and Heywood could benefit local business by as much as $15.6 million annually according to a report released today by Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC).

Commissioned by RDALC, the report was undertaken by CSIRO which used modelling to map the region’s freight task and supply chains for major commodities including timber, livestock, dairy products and crops.

RDALC Chair, Peter Gandolfi said the report showed that reinstating the rail line along the currently unused rail corridor from the eastern outskirts of Mount Gambier to link into the existing rail services at Heywood would open the door for products from this region to more efficiently reach major Australian markets and ports.

“This report has critically analysed the volume, variety and movement of the commodities in our region so we can understand our region’s freight demand and supply chains and the opportunity for rail in the Limestone Coast,” RDALC Chair Peter Gandolfi said.

 “This analysis estimated road and rail transport costs for major commodities moving across and out of our region. Crucial to the process was identifying where potential savings can be made through reinstating rail for current and future freight demands.

“The report has revealed that for the commodities included in this study, approximately 527,000 truck movements use at least part of the Limestone Coast region’s transport network. Of these about 476,000 movements originate in or are destined for the region,” said Mr Gandolfi. 

Mr Gandolfi said not only does the report identify direct freight savings for local businesses, it also indicates other economic and social benefits if a rail freight service was reinstated. 

“A further $1.5 million in savings each year has been identified through reduced road maintenance and avoided accidents,” Mr Gandolfi said.

The RDALC has conservatively estimated that an investment of between $120 and $150 million to reinvigorate the line between Mount Gambier and Heywood would offer a return on investment within nine years. The investment would also include establishing a freight depot (intermodal) on the eastern outskirts of Mount Gambier from where the rail would be re-instated along the existing corridor to Heywood.

The reinstatement of the line between Mount Gambier and Wolseley was evaluated by CSIRO but was found to have a very low economic benefit to the region and incur a much greater cost to reinstate than the Heywood line.

“With our economic prosperity in this region being directly linked to market access, the cost of transporting our product to market is critical,” Mr Gandolfi said. “This report has provided an analysis of total and per tonne transport costs and potential transport cost reduction by commodity and mode of transport, which means decision makers now have clear information to make investment decisions on infrastructure needs.

“The next step is to work with governments to undertake a full engineering assessment and cost analysis for the reinstatement of the rail line between Mount Gambier and Heywood,” Mr Gandolfi said.    

The report, ‘Rail corridor and freight analysis for the Limestone Coast and South West Victoria – Application of TraNSIT’, is available below or by contacting the office via email


TraNSIT Limestone Coast Final Report 

TraNSIT Limestone Coast Factsheet


For further enquiries contact:

Peter Gandolfi

Chair, RDALC

T: 0419 155 447

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Limestone Coast Prospectus of Priorities

December 13, 2019

Priorities to enable our region towards 7750 jobs

In 2018 the region undertook a process of coming together to explore its investment potential and look at where strategic investment needs to occur to build and enable further investment. The project was underpinned by a Regional Infrastructure Audit.

Strategic infrastructure that underpins the efficient movement of ideas, data, energy, people and goods is critical to the Limestone Coast regions ability to compete in a global market and tap unrealise economic development opportunities.

This document showcases the assets of the Limestone Coast region and outlines a series of priority areas and actions that leverage our competitive advantages. These projects have been identified by the region as paramount to encouraging economic growth to ensure a prosperous future for our businesses and communities.

Download Limestone Coast Prospectus of Priorities here

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Marketing opens world of opportunity

November 12, 2019

Workshops help businesses expand reach

A fantastic opportunity is coming up for business owners and operators looking to improve and develop their interstate and/or overseas markets. The Adelaide Business Hub and Food South Australia are combining forces to present two half day workshops specifically for local businesses in Naracoorte, Thursday 21 November and Mount Gambier, Friday 22 November.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Patrick Baker of Baker Marketing coming down to deliver a fit for purpose session on digital marketing and cost-effective marketing tools,” said David Wheaton, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast. “Patrick will offer business owners great insight into developing your content and creating a Digital Action Plan that will best reach your customers and increase your sales conversions,” he said.

Key topics that will be covered at the workshop include understanding where customers turn to for information regarding your products or services, which tools will most effectively reach your target customers and how to capitalise on low-cost digital tools to improve success.

 “Many business owners are already comfortable with targeting the local markets with their online content but are unsure on the best methods for accessing markets further abroad,” said Mr Wheaton. “Patrick will help you decide which is the best approach and what are the most effective marketing activities and tools for your business to utilise,” he said.

In conjunction with this latest digital training from ASBAS, Annabel Mugford from the Food SA SME Export Hub will be in region to meet one on one with food and beverage (excluding wine) businesses around export.

The recently launched Hub focuses on supporting food and beverage businesses to become export ready and fast track their export growth.

“Annabel is excited to have the opportunity to personally introduce the Food SA Export Hub at the Digital training workshops and then offer some one-on-one time to discuss export with individual businesses,” said Mr Wheaton. “You may be already exporting or only just thinking about exporting and the Hub can help to support your growth in export,” he said.

For those not able to attend the workshops, appointments can be made directly with Annabel to discuss the Hub outside of the workshops. Whether you can attend the training or not, contact Annabel to start discussing the SME Export Hub via email:

Full details and registrations for these workshops can be found at the Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast Facebook page @rdalimestonecoast or calling 8723 1057. 

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South Australia Food and Beverage Export Hub – helping food and beverage businesses fast track their export growth

October 10, 2019

A new export hub has recently been established to help South Australian small to medium food and beverage businesses become export ready and fast track their export growth. The South Australia Food and Beverage Export Hub is a one-stop-export-shop specifically focused on food and beverage manufacturers, processes and producers with fewer than 200 full-time employees.

The South Australian Food and Beverage Export Hub focuses on eight key export markets: China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, USA and Vietnam.

“Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast is excited to be one of eight organizations partnering with Food SA in this program,” said Peter Gandolfi, Chair of RDALC “We’ll be working closely with Food SA to assist the delivery of the Hub services to our local businesses and maximise the potential economic benefits for our region.”

“The Export Hub program is conveniently divided into three modules tailored to food and beverage business needs at each stage of their export development process,” explained Catherine Sayer, Food South Australia Chief Executive Officer.

“Informed through previous industry research, Food South Australia has identified common issues for businesses considering exporting and growing their export markets. By working with the eight Export Hub partner organisations, we have designed this program to assist businesses overcome these issues,” Ms Sayer said.

The eight Export Hub partners are: SARDI, The University of Adelaide, TradeStart, AUSVEG-SA and four Regional Development Australia organisations. Combining the partners knowledge and experience with key Food South Australia staff based at the Food South Australia offices and in China and Japan, gives the business participants an unprecedented level of access to exporting skills and support.

“The Hub program is specifically designed to complement the existing Austrade programs and expands on current support – not duplicate it – by including support for businesses that aren’t yet export-ready,” said Mr Gandolfi. “The Hub can assist businesses to bridge the initial stages and grow into the export-ready phase.”

Participation in the Export Hub is fee-based and all South Australian food and beverage businesses are invited to apply.

Limestone Coast food and beverage businesses interested in finding out more about the program are encouraged to attend one of the local upcoming information sessions in late November. Further information on these sessions can be sought from RDALC on (08) 87231057 or emailing

Food South Australia is an independent, industry-led and membership-based organisation, representing small, medium and large companies across the food and beverage sector in South Australia. Food South Australia is the peak body for the food and beverage industry in South Australia.

The South Australia Food and Beverage Export Hub is delivered by Food South Australia, with grant funding from the Australian Government’s SME Export Hubs and FTA-ME grant opportunities and funding support from the Government of South Australia.

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Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast boosting the capability of our local building industry

September 30, 2019

Local construction and trade businesses can enhance their chances of securing work on a range of South Australian projects by positioning their business as a credible supplier in the supply chain – and ultimately win work. 

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast has secured a fantastic opportunity to host the Industry Capability Network (ICN) for a three-hour business specific workshop in October.

The Construction Industry in the Limestone Coast accounts for more than 770 businesses, employs over 2,000 people and contributes more than $540 million to our economy every year. New opportunities for this sector will contribute to the growth of the region and boost other related industries.

The ICN connects suppliers with project proponents and procurement managers across Australia and New Zealand. The ICN’s services are easy to use and can help support local businesses to make the right connections to maximise these new opportunities.

“This workshop offers local industry the ability to learn the techniques and skills needed to participate in major projects and operations by increasing the visibility of local suppliers to buyers,” said RDALC CEO David Wheaton. “This training can open up new market opportunities not only for contracts in South Australia but more broadly Australia,” he said.

“RDALC want to support Limestone Coast businesses to be leaders in the pack when it comes to securing tenders and large contracts.”

The workshop is facilitated by the Industry Capability Network (ICN) and Quisk Design and will help participants:

  • Understand the ICN Expression of Interest process
  • Collate an appropriate response to EOI criteria
  • Identify your Unique Value Proposition
  • Develop a Capability Statement
  • Increase your chances of being shortlisted
  • Develop your branding and business development activities across multiple platforms

“One of the key barriers to accessing larger contracts can be tackling the time consuming and complex procurement processes,” Mr Wheaton said.  “By attending this workshop participants will have a better understanding of the processes behind these operations and be empowered to seek new business opportunities and break into new and expanding supply chains to give their business the advantage heading forward.”

This workshop titled “Building Credibility for Major Projects” will be a once-off – so businesses are encouraged to book in without delay. Further details and registration information can be found via the RDALC facebook page @rdalimestonecoast 

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Is bioenergy for your business?

August 8, 2019

Bioenergy is energy or power produced from organic matter derived from plants, animals and organic by-products. Referred to as ‘biomass feedstocks’, this organic matter can be used to produce electricity, heat, fuel and other bio-based products.

Many are familiar with the term’s biomass and bioenergy, but few have probably ever considered what opportunity the production of bioenergy has for their business – and how much money it can potentially save. Biomass resources have major potential in diversifying energy sources and supplying additional energy during peak demand, thus reducing business costs.

It also reduces carbon emissions, diverts waste from landfill and produces valuable by-products such as biochar to provide secondary income streams.

In 2015 the South Australian Government undertook a study exploring the states bioenergy potential. The resulting Bioenergy Roadmap identified several hotspots, showing that South Australia has significant potential in commercially available bioenergy.

At the time of the study, the bioenergy industry was worth $0.5B to Australia with high potential for significant growth. To underpin this study and accelerate the development of bioenergy projects, the Bioenergy Roadmap Program was formed, consisting of a prefeasibility fund (the Bioenergy Connect Program) and a second stage full feasibility fund (the Bioenergy Feasibility Fund).

This Program is currently open to businesses operating in South Australia and is aimed at building the capacity of businesses to better understand their bioenergy potential and ultimately increase development of bioenergy infrastructure projects across the state.

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast is the lead organisation managing and delivering the Bioenergy Roadmap Program and has been doing so since 2016. To date 21 businesses have accessed the Bioenergy Connect Program (BEC) with 4 continuing through to the Bioenergy Feasibility Fund.

This has included olive producers, equestrian centres, food processors, piggeries, poultry and dairy producers, timber processors, councils and even zoos.

In a horticultural context, Holla Fresh at Tantanoola is the shining light of innovation in bioenergy on an international scale. The business replaces purchased electricity and waste-oil-fired hot water with a low emissions, low cost innovative alternative. Called “ECHO2” the bioenergy system supplies hot water for the glasshouse along with electricity and horticultural CO2. They exchange clean recycled wood biomass to run the process with the high value biochar by-product as a secondary product. This system is carbon negative via carbon capture and storage and produces huge financial savings to the business.

The Mount Gambier Aquatic Centre is another simpler bioenergy success story. They have used locally sourced wood chip to run biomass boilers to heat the pool since 2014 – winning the 2014 SA Aquatic Innovation Award from Recreation SA in recognition of this initiative.

RDALC is now calling for other interested businesses to take up the opportunity to enter into the BEC with 10 places still available for pre-feasibility projects. As part of the BEC, successful applicants engage with an approved bioenergy mentor. The mentors guide them through the conceptual stages of developing a bioenergy project and then develop a high-level estimation of the financial benefits of applying bioenergy technology to their business. This prefeasibility report often outlines multiple bioenergy options for the applicant’s business.

To find out more visit the bioenergy roadmap page here or call 87231057.

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Building for Our Future

July 11, 2019

The quality of a society’s infrastructure is critical to its economic performance and social capital. Building schools, hospitals and roads, protecting our environment and enhancing our cultural and sporting facilities are all part of planning and providing for the long term.

Sound investment in infrastructure can boost the productive potential of the economy and growth of exports through improved transport networks, communication infrastructure or facilities. The recent injection of funds for the airport upgrade, the racecourse redevelopment and the soon to be constructed sport and recreation centre in Mt Gambier are great assets to our regional economy.

This week Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast invited Mr Jeremy Conway, CEO of the newly established Infrastructure SA to present to the Board regarding the discussion paper on the 20-Year State Infrastructure Strategy. A new initiative of the State Liberal Government, Infrastructure SA was established in November 2018 under the Infrastructure SA Act 2018. The Infrastructure SA Board reports directly to the Premier and is an independent governing body combining expertise from public and private sectors.

In his presentation, Mr Conway spoke about the proposed Infrastructure Strategy. A first for South Australia the strategy will encapsulate the State’s challenges and opportunities, it will identify the infrastructure needs for industries, businesses and communities to thrive into the future.

Infrastructure SA recognise the importance regions play in our state’s economy and are keen to gather input into the future direction of investment into our infrastructure needs. The 20-Year strategy will enable the Government to plan and make decisions to ensure that South Australia has the infrastructure required to grow the economy, create jobs and improve the liveability of all South Australians.

The Discussion Paper provides an overview of the purpose of the Strategy, its relationship to other relevant government initiatives and strategies, details a South Australian context to future global challenges and opportunities, and introduces potential cross-sectoral issues and specific sector considerations.

Importantly the Discussion Paper provides an opportunity for local stakeholders to provide insights and perspectives about the most pressing infrastructure needs in the Limestone Coast such as road upgrades and bridge and drainage network maintenance.

As a leader in regional infrastructure and investment attraction, RDALC will continue to collaborate closely with Infrastructure SA along with other government departments to ensure the Limestone Coast gets the investment and support it needs.

RDALC encourages businesses and community groups to submit their perspective’s on our regions infrastructure requirements via the discussion paper before July 31 to Infrastructure SA. For further information visit 

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RDALC Strategic Plan 2019

July 4, 2019

The Strategic Plan outlines our priorities and our commitment to enhancing the vibrancy and prosperity of the region through economic development.

Our organisation’s prime goal is to plan for, and deliver regional development initiatives in conjunction with our funding partners. Our objectives are shared by these partners and they help us make things happen at the local level.

We believe this plan reflects the many diverse opportunities that our unique region presents and highlights those areas that are important to our community. Our focus on economic development ensures the Limestone Coast delivers extensive employment and business opportunities, but is also seen as an attractive place to live, providing a wonderful regional lifestyle thanks to a comprehensive range of services and facilities.

We look forward to working with you, our community and various stakeholders in achieving the aspirations outlined in this RDALC Strategic Plan.

RDALC Strategic Plan 2019-2022

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Free Disability services drop-in Café in Mount Gambier

June 20, 2019

The Disability Workforce Hub (DWFH) is hosting an NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) Café at the Mt Gambier City Hall, Thursday 27 June from 10-2pm.

People with a disability and their carers are invited to come along and catch up with local disability service providers about what services they can access. “The NDIS Café will be set up as a relaxed event whereby everyone can come along at their own leisure, enjoy a chat and free morning tea and hopefully make some new connections with local service providers,” said DWFH Coordinator Melissa Hunter. “It’s an opportunity to find out what services these providers offer and perhaps how you can tailor their supports for your own needs”.

People looking for work, wanting to get back into the workforce or looking for a career change are also encouraged to come along on the day. “The disability sector offers a variety of rewarding roles, and there are many employment opportunities available all across the Limestone Coast,” said Ms Hunter. “Many of the service providers attending are interested in joining forces to promote employment opportunities and their services in the region, so if you’re looking for work in the disability sector come and find out about the opportunities available.”

If you have a disability or health/injury related barrier to obtaining work, a number of disability employment services are also attending. They will be able to talk to you about the support they can provide in connecting you with employers.

On the day there will be representatives from the following organisations: Disability Workforce Hub, WDEA, Cara, Miroma, Comrec, Mission Australia, Carers SA, Skylight, Axis Employment, Job Prospects, Baptist Care, Boandik, People First Community Care, Homecare +, Limestone Coast Volunteer Service, Country Health Connect, Community Living Australia, Total Therapy Solutions, Limestone Coast Training.

Event information can be found on the RDALC facebook page (@rdalimestonecoast) or by contacting Melissa Hunter on 8723 1057.

For further Information contact:
Ms Melissa Hunter,
Disability Workforce Hub Coordinator
M: 0438 169 098

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