In one of his stand-up comedy routines, my husband tells a joke about the TV advertisement for Burnie, "city by the sea". Because, let's face it, the vast majority of Australian cities are by the sea, so it's not exactly a unique selling proposition. The signs you drive past on the way into into this town in north west Tasmania tell a different and much better story - they read "Burnie, city of makers". And make stuff they do.
I was lucky enough to visit several businesses in the north west region last week as part of the 2013 Tasmanian Leaders program. The theme of the two-day session was business innovation and that's exactly what we saw. We visited a company that produces 60 percent of the world's pyrethrum; a family business that supplies hydroponic cherry tomatoes to both major supermarket chains in Australia, a supplier of specialist haulage trucks for the mining industry and rail excavators, a manufacturer of molded composites like fibreglass, a whisky distiller and one of Tasmania's top salmon producers. Each of them showed resilience and creativity in tackling market challenges and opportunities. We had dinner with the regional business community at the Makers Workshop in Burnie. It was an absolute eye opener to see what's going on up in the north of Tasmania. Go and have a look - it's amazing.
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