We need to get smarter about managing perceptions because living in a regional area does not automatically strip someone of all education, innovation and ability.
Sometimes, when I venture out of regional Queensland and head South, I feel as though I have dropped in from another planet – or a parallel universe.
I notice this particularly when I land in Sydney and Melbourne. Brisbane is better, but I still have difficulty making myself understood in the beautiful River City of Queensland.
Don’t get me wrong. The Brisbaneites, Sydney-siders and Melburnians are (mostly) wonderful people, friendly and very hospitable.
It’s just that they don’t have any clue about where I’m from, what goes on thereof, and (most importantly), how important that all is to them.
Recently I attended a seminar in one of those two cities south of the Queensland border. As we all do in such gatherings, I was networking furiously and delivering my elevator pitch liberally. Because of the nature of the event, I included my “regional small business advocate” piece.
One very high-profile person responded to my pitch with a comment that summed up my sense of being a foreigner in my own country.
“Yes, it’s very important that we support the bush”.
MANAGING PERCEPTIONS – WE’RE NOT ALL ASKING FOR A HANDOUT.
Here’s the thing. Not all of regional Australia is ‘bush’, and were not all asking for a handout.
Before I’m howled down, I want to acknowledge that there are parts of regional Australia suffering from drought. It’s crippling to regional economies and their people. I’ve lived through them with my farming family.
But even in areas where drought has a firm hand, there are innovative entrepreneurs making the world a better place.
HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES FROM MY OWN REGION:
- Not 30 minutes from where I live is a world-leading agricultural robotics company – SwarmFarm. Andrew and Jocie Bate are farmers who saw a better way to do agriculture and went for it. They collaborate with Universities but insist that their company stay headquartered here – where the farming happens.
- A local grade 11 student won a Tech Hack competition with his “Mad Greens” fresh produce innovation.
- Queensland’s first dedicated AgTech incubator has just been established.