Forum a chance to build on the boom
The inaugural Hedland Economic and Resources Forum had the Matt Dann Cultural Centre buzzing with local, statewide and national business figures and stakeholders last week as Premier Colin Barnett, among distinguished speakers, aimed to inspire new networking opportunities in the Pilbara.
With witty MC, comedian and public speaker Mark Horabin, adding tongue in cheek lightness of touch to proceedings, this Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce initiative enabled the wider business community to step forward in this hectic boom climate.
Premier Barnett addressed the audience and Mayor Kelly Howlett, BHP Billiton’s Chris Cottier and Pilbara Development Commission CEO Steve Webster were but a few of the local Pilbara speakers.
Mr Webster’s pragmatic take on the future balance of the residential versus fly in fly out population, through a series of predictive pie charts, revealed a worrying prognosis of a far greater FIFO percentage by 2018.
However, he spoke of an impending inquiry into fly in fly out as a great opportunity, saying, “I’m a realist as all of us are here in the room; fly in fly out has an important role,” but that if the direction the region is heading is towards the statistics on the pie charts, “that’s not the best we can do.”
Speakers such as Atlas Mining General Manager David Flanagan, who had just received “The Governor’s Gift for Giving” for the company’s philanthropic pursuits, urges companies to get involved in community projects, like Atlas’ recent $250, 000 Port Hedland working bee.
He said, “If you’ve got a willingness of people to improve things and make a contribution to the community and they’ve got the capacity to do it… it can only be good from here on out.”
He was particularly inspired by Chris Adams from Pilbara Cities and Mayor Kelly Howlett, saying, “I love having someone like her leading a community like Port Hedland.
“It makes me feel as though there’s good leadership and the community’s going to improve.”
Local business owner Gael Drum was among many who benefited from speakers’ offerings and networking possibilities.
“The economic forum gave me, as a small business owner starting a new venture in the Pilbara, the opportunity to see more clearly the short and long term future of industry in the Pilbara region.
“With the calibre of people attending, I came away from it with valuable contacts and opportunities which I was able to act on immediately,” Mrs Drum said.