Victoria’s $6 million Streetlife program kicks off Small Biz Festival
By Michelle Hammond Thursday, 26 July 2012
Business groups have welcomed the Victorian Government’s $6 million Streetlife program, launched yesterday, which is designed to inject new life into small retail businesses.
Speaking at the launch of the Victorian Small Business Festival, the state’s Small Business Minister Louise Asher said the $6 million program would be spread out over four years.
Asher said the government intends to partner with councils and business trader groups to support small retail businesses in local shopping precincts throughout the state.
“The four-year $6 million Streetlife program for retailers will help them to develop their business and marketing strategies, boost skills, and improve online and social media capacity in order to increase customer traffic and sales,” Asher said at the launch.
Applications will open later this year.
Business groups have welcomed the program, with the Australian Retailers Association describing it as a victory for a sector that’s in desperate need of funding in order to survive.
“There’s no doubt there has been a dramatic shift in Australia’s retail industry over the last few years,” ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman says.
“Smaller retailers and those in regional areas… will be able to access the benefits of the program through their local councils and business associations.”
“The ARA, as well as the ARA Retail Institute, is looking forward to working with the Victorian Government on the Streetlife program.”
Similarly, the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the practical assistance provided through the program will be welcomed.
VECCI chief executive Mark Stone also made mention of VECCI’s own small business initiatives.
“VECCI is itself conducting a series of workshops throughout Victoria’s regions, which will culminate in our biennial Regional Business Convention in Geelong,” Stone says.
“Regional businesses and communities will have the opportunity to provide ideas for the future growth and prosperity of regional Victoria.”
The Streetlife announcement kicked off Victoria’s month-long Small Business Festival, designed to help the state’s 523,000 small businesses access new skills and ideas.
The festival will feature more than 250 information seminars, workshops and networking events across Melbourne and regional Victoria throughout August.
“With almost a third of Victoria’s 523,000 small businesses based in rural and regional Victoria, a substantial number of events and local partner festivals will be held in regional areas, including the key centres of Geelong, Ballarat and Warrnambool,” Asher said.
|For full detail: http://2012.biochar.us.com/299/2012-us-biochar-conference-presentations
History & Industry
Wise land management, Afforestation and the Thermal Conversion of Biomass can build back our Soil Carbon.  Pyrolysis, Gasification and Hydro-Thermal Carbonization are known biofuel technologies. What is new are the concomitant benefits of biochars for Soil Carbon Sequestration; building soil biodiversity & nitrogen efficiency, for in situ remediation of toxic agents, and, as a feed supplement cutting the carbon foot print of livestock.
Modern systems are closed-loop with no significant emissions. The general life cycle analysis is: every 1 ton of biomass yields 1/3 ton Biochar equal to 1 ton CO2 equivalent, plus biofuels equal to 1MWh exported electricity, so each energy cycle is 1/3 carbon negative. Cutting edge, third generation companies, aiming for drop-in fuels report that 1 ton of biomass yields 75 gallons of bio-gasoline and 1/3 Ton Biochar. . Another pathway is production of Ammonia and Biochar from biomass, making Agriculture Fossil Free Fertilizer ,  In combination; Farmers can be Fossil Carbon Free utilizing less than 3% of their fields.
Erich J. Knight
Keeping in touch with the Waste Policy Review
As you already know the Department of Sustainability and Environment and environment portfolio partners are conducting a review of waste policy.
With the consultation period complete, it is an opportune time to send you an update on the review and its next steps. Since the March launch of the discussion paper, 71 submissions were received and they have been invaluable in giving the review team a picture of what people consider to be issues.
Additionally, an engagement program of 17 workshops was rolled out across the state and we were pleased that over 400 people attended these sessions.
The public submissions can now be found online at www.dse.vic.gov.au/waste
Later this year a draft waste policy paper will be released for public comment as the next step in the Government’s reform of waste management.
Keeping in touch with the Waste Policy Review – If you haven’t already, get in touch with the team at email@example.com to join the conversation online at our Yammer group for information and feedback from the engagement sessions. The Yammer group is part of a private, online social network that allows invited stakeholders to make comments, ask questions or share information, so get involved.
Waste Management and Resource Efficiency
Waste Policy Review
With Victoria’s current waste policy (Towards Zero Waste) ready to sunset in 2014, the Victorian Government has embarked on a broad review of the existing waste policy settings and practices.
The Waste Policy Review, led by DSE in partnership with portfolio partners will create a new solid waste policy that reflects and balances the needs of key stakeholders including industry, local government and the community.
Waste Policy Review engagement
Later this year a draft waste policy paper will be released for public comment as the next step in the Government’s reform of waste management.
Written submissions to the Waste Policy Review
Submissions closed on May 3 2012. As part of the engagement, stakeholders were invited to make a submission to the review, guided by the Waste Policy Review discussion paper.
Waste Policy Review Discussion Paper [PDF File – 1.0 MB]
Waste Policy Review Discussion Paper – accessible version [RTF File – 343.8 KB]
Public submissions to the Waste Policy Review can be viewed here
Keeping in touch with the Waste Policy Review
Get in touch with the review team at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the conversation online at our Yammer group, for information and feedback from the engagement sessions.
The Yammer group is part of a private, online social network that allows invited stakeholders to share comments and ideas, view documents and links as well as gain up to date information about things happening in waste policy in Victoria – all in one online space.
It works in a similar way to Facebook, however it operates only within a private network of stakeholders, not to the entire world wide web.
About Victoria’s waste policy review
Several high level reviews have revealed that Victoria’s current waste policy framework is not meeting its expected aims, with many economic opportunities going unrealised. Such reviews include:
- The Victorian Auditor General’s performance audit into Municipal Solid Waste Management (June 2011)
- The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s report A Sustainable future for Victoria: Getting Environmental Regulation Right (2009) which led to the review of State Environment Protection Policies (SEPPs)
- The Victorian Ombudsman’s Brookland Greens Estate – Investigation into Methane Gas Leaks (2009)
The Minister for Environment and Climate Change announced the review of Victoria’s Waste Policy on 5 March 2012 [PDF File – 184.2 KB].
The review will be focused primarily on:
- The strategic, legislative, institutional and investment settings that influence the nature and performance of waste management and;
- Solid municipal waste, commercial and industrial waste, and construction and demolition waste.
The consultation phase has now concluded, and it provided a strong foundation for determining how partners can best work together and integrate decision making. Stakeholder contributions and feedback are being used to draft a new waste policy, which will be presented to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change.
2012 Bellarine 2050,
OUR PLACE, OUR FUTURE
A BLUEPRINT for the future development of the Bellarine Peninsula will move a step closer to completion this week.
A forum on Friday, 4th July 2012 at the Clifton Springs Golf Club, hosted by the Committee for Bellarine, is the second phase in the drafting of the Bellarine 2050 Masterplan.
Committee executive director Tom O’Connor said forecasts of a population explosion on the Bellarine has added urgency to the drafting of a master plan.
The plan will detail a wide range of complex social, industrial and administrative challenges associated with the effects of future growth.
He said Bureau of Statistics projections show 140,000 people almost treble the current number will call the Peninsula home by 2050. The masterplan will examine how the various residential, industrial, education and recreational issues should be identified and dealt with.
Those attending the forum will include business and community leaders, local councillors, police and emergency services and members of community organisations.
Mr O’Connor said his group would also meet with experts from Marcus Oldham College to discuss future employment strategies.
“We need to develop job opportunities linked to the many strengths of the Bellarine,” Mr O’Connor said.
“It is important we recognise and preserve the natural resources of the peninsula and the offshore potential.”
He said the employment potential of the equine, agriculture and aquaculture sectors would be high on the agenda.
The committee is also due to meet with Planning Minister Matthew Guy later this week.
“We will be looking at the urban design framework as it applies to the various towns on the Bellarine,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The future requirements for retail and service industries, public transport and roads will form the basis of that discussion.”
Among the expert key note speakers due to address the forum is urban design consultant Professor Paul Carter.
Date July 23, 2012 Philip Hopkins
Changing the city: Five business zones would become two commercial zones. Photo: Courtsey Savills
THE Baillieu government’s sweeping changes to the state’s planning zones have been welcomed by business groups, with the Property Council of Australia warning that local councils should not get in the way of the proposals.
The Victorian Executive Director of the Property Council, Jennifer Cunich, said the proposed reforms would re-energise the capital city zone and breathe new life into Victoria’s other retail and commercial hubs. ”This is exactly what the doctor would order to revive a slowing economy,” she said.
Ms Cunich said reducing excessive planning regulations would help revitalise Victoria’s commercial, industrial and retail dead zones, freeing up development opportunities.
However, the government should not adopt a passive approach to local councils in regard to these reforms.
”Too often good state-wide planning reform has been frustrated by councils which do not share its planning vision,” she said. ”The Baillieu government should consider providing incentives to those councils which readily embrace its planning agenda.”
The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the plans to consolidate the existing multitude of residential and commercial zones into fewer categories was a positive step.
VECCI chief executive Mark Stone said the planning reforms simplified arrangements and allowed a broader range of activities to be considered in the planning process.
The Master Builders Association applauded the proposed reforms, saying they would create greater planning certainty and thus foster growth and jobs. Victorian executive director Brian Welch said the new commercial zones would encourage the construction of workplaces, retail precincts and offices across the suburbs.
Under the proposals, the commercial 1 zone amalgamates the existing business 1, business 2 and business 5 zones.
The proposed commercial 2 zone amalgamates the existing business 3 and business 4 zones.
The Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, said the current five business zones created confusion, market barriers and unnecessary burdens, such as the need to rezone land.
”Reducing the number of zones and broadening the range of uses permitted in particular areas will reduce prescription, increase ‘as-of-right’ business investment opportunities and provide greater business flexibility,” he said.
Mr Guy said the existing industrial zones had a floor space limit of 500 square metres of office space, which was based on a traditional industrial building. ”New and emerging industry requires a larger scale and greater mixture of industry and office. These current floor space caps restrict the ability to develop modern and more innovative industry,” he said.
Mr Guy said the industrial zone reforms would support business investment by removing the floor space caps for an office.
”These reforms will be complemented by changes to the industrial 3 zone, which will allow small supermarkets with supporting shops,” he said.
Regional Victoria would also benefit from changes to rural zones that would foster agriculture, remove restrictions on complementary business uses in some zones, and cut permit restrictions on tourism, he said.
Public comments on the proposals are open until September 21. The reforms are expected to be introduced by the Victorian Government in October.
As we discussed, below are a few thoughts around the topics of water, food and energy.
Unfortunately there is no silver bullet when it comes to transitioning to a carbon constrained future. Although some will argue that there is no evidence of man made climate change, this is just one of the consequences associated with the increase of CO©ü within the atmosphere. The greater effect will be the acidification of the oceans and the associated breakdown of oceanographic food chains. This will be become more evident as we discuss food security.
There will need to be a suite of energy sources, including coal in the short term, and will be dependent on geographical locations. Fortunately for the The Bellarine there is a large variety of energy sources available. Wind, tidal, waste to energy and PV solar are all viable small scale solutions, and with the Otway basin natural gas field and nearby Geothermal projects under development, the region could be self sufficient and even a net generator of energy.
Nationally the creation of large scale solar thermal plant will be able to provide 24 hour/day base load power. Although this will require the will of both the people and politicians to make happen as it will be a large infrastructure investment.
I think it may have been Mark Twain or WC Fields who said "Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over." Although we may have plenty today and the water authorities are saying that they have enough for the next five years, this is based on us getting average rain fall over that period. The climate models are predicting that South Eastern Australia will be overall dryer over the next ten year. This is also born out by the current state of the Southern Oscillation Index that has been negative for the past three months and is continuing on that trend and other makers that indicate we are on the boundary of an El Nino event.
We need to learn from the Israelis and recycle water for multiple reuse purposes. This means cascading its use, drinking / eating, washing / showering, flushing, watering, and done on a small to medium scale within the home or local community. Pumping it all the way to the Water Reclamation Plant and back again is simply a waste of energy resources. This could easily be demonstrated within development projects, however what we see currently is multimillion dollar centralised ¡®A¡¯ class plants being built in order to return the water to the estates many kilometres away.
Water will become a rare commodity and although I have talked generally about its recycle use on a local small scale there is an opportunity on The Bellarine to take advantage of the Black Rock WRP which current has an average influent of 55ML/day. A reuse strategy needs to be developed with community consultation to establish the best method of water use. This may require changes to crop locations and types to take best advantage of the resource.
Food security is linked directly to the two previous topics, however ensuring financially viable crop production is difficult when considering the price at the farm gate regardless of a plentiful water supply. As around the Werribee area, consideration should be given to vegetable growth production to take advantage of recycled water availability. Across the combined regions and access to Avalon Airport we should be able to be self sufficient for a large variety of vegetables and develop an export market.
I have attached a WHO report on food trends for your review. It talks about “the proteins derived from fish, crustaceans and molluscs account for between 13.8% and 16.5% of the animal protein intake of the human population”. The region has an opportunity to set up high value niche markets sending fresh and processed shellfish produce to Asia while again being self sufficient. Mussels, abalone and scallops are all native to the region and are ideal high value products. I have my original files from the preliminary concepts for scallop aquaculture that I would be happy to share.
World fisheries are in decline and an international cooperative is required to address this issue. Wild fish restocking by nations could be the answer. Free range fish? (I am not sure you can solve this on The Bellarine)
Here, however is my concern for the medium term viability of the ocean. The increased atmospheric CO©ü is being sequested into the worlds oceans (Daltons law of partial pressure). This is in turn altering the ocean chemistry thus increasing the acidity. The increased acidity is impairing the ability of calcifying organisms to develop shell and plate calcium carbonate structures. Research within this area is on going, however if the trend continues there will be a break in the food chain that will be devastating to ocean food production. The consequences of this situation has not yet been fully realised. This is the most compelling case for move quickly to a carbon constrained economy.
It’s not all doom and gloom there is plenty we can do. Work with like minded, passionate people to educate others and develop strategies and set direction for the region. A university base research and development town with niche businesses in high quality produce, biomedical engineering and specialty materials on the doorstep of an international airport would be a good place to start.
Talk soon, Steve
PS: All comments welcome
Turning Paris into an open-air laboratory for innovation
By Bryan Pirolli | July 20, 2012, 1:22 AM PDT
PARIS – With the Grand Prix de l’Innovation currently in the final rounds, the French are putting more and more focus on innovation, especially in Paris.
With the 11th annual competition and 12,000 euros at stake, contestants are striving to raise the bar to rethink new technology in fields like service industries, ecology, and health.
By Joe McKendrick | July 19, 2012, 8:42 AM PDT
More than any economic trend or program seen in modern times, mobile phones have become a force lifting many parts of the globe into a new realm of entrepreneurial opportunities.
That’s the conclusion of a new report released by the World Bank and infoDev, its technology entrepreneurship and innovation program. Overall, the report states, about three-quarters of the world’s inhabitants now have access to a mobile phone and the mobile communications. The number of mobile subscriptions in use worldwide, both pre-paid and post-paid, has grown from fewer than 1 billion in 2000 to over 6 billion now, of which nearly 5 billion in developing countries. Ownership of multiple subscriptions is becoming increasingly common, suggesting that their number will soon exceed that of the human population.
But the big story isn’t how many phones are out there — rather, it’s how they are being used, and the impact on societies. For example, there’s the rise of the “app economy” — the report observes that more than 30 billion mobile applications, or “apps,” were downloaded in 2011 – software that extends the capabilities of phones, for instance to become mobile wallets, navigational aids or price comparison tools.
“Mobiles can stimulate entrepreneurial activity, as the demand for mobile industry hubs and mobile incubators has shown, and it can create many more opportunities for self-employment, part-time work, and flexwork. In a mobile-driven economy, second and third jobs will become much more common—and much more important.”
In the United States alone, the mobile app industry provided an estimated 466,000 jobs in 2011 with annual growth rates of up to 45 percent from 2010 to 2011. Mobile money applications have also proved to be net generators of jobs. For example, Safaricom’s M-PESA system supports 23,000 jobs for agents in Kenya alone. Airtel Kenya, the second-biggest mobile operator, plans to recruit some 25,000 agents for its mobile money service, Airtel Money.
The report observes that the global mobile industry is today a major source of employment opportunities, through direct jobs, indirect jobs, and jobs on the demand side.
In developing countries, citizens are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback mechanisms. As the report puts it: “in some developing countries, more people have access to a mobile phone than to a bank account, electricity, or even clean water.” Mobile communications “offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development – from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes,” says World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte.
The World Bank report cites examples, such India’s state of Kerala’s mGovernment program, which has deployed more than 20 applications and facilitated more than three million interactions between the government and citizens since its launch in December 2010. Kenya has emerged as a leading player in mobile for development, largely due to the success of the M-PESA mobile payment ecosystem. Nairobi-based AkiraChix, for example, provides networking and training for women technologists.
The report also highlights how mobile innovation labs – shared spaces for training developers and incubating start-ups – can help bring new apps to market. For instance, infoDev, in collaboration with the Government of Finland and Nokia, has established five regional mobile innovation labs (mLabs) in Armenia, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, and Vietnam. infoDev is also using mobile social networking to bring grassroots entrepreneurs together with other stakeholders in mobile hubs (mHubs).
There’s an irony here as well: “The simple cell phone has probably done more to reduce poverty globally and promote economic growth around the planet than all of the efforts of the World Bank,” comments University of Michigan economist Mark Perry.
Valerie D’Costa, Program Manager of infoDev, sees a parallel to the growth of the 1980s tech sector:
“Most businesses based around mobile app technology are at an early stage of development, but may hold enormous employment and economic potential, similar to that of the software industry in the 1980s and 1990s. Supporting the networking and incubation of entrepreneurs is essential to ensure that such potential is tapped.”
Collaboration is also being enhanced, and opened up, thanks to mobile technology. “In today’s open innovation model, partners, customers, researchers, and even competitors are finding new ways to collaborate in the product development process,” the report states.
The report also notes that in the developed world, “mobile communications have added value to legacy communication systems and have supplemented and expanded existing information flows.” However, in the developing world, “new mobile applications that are designed locally and rooted in the realities of the developing world will be much better suited to addressing development challenges than applications transplanted from elsewhere. In particular, locally developed applications can address developing-country concerns such as digital literacy and affordability.”
The report sums it up nicely with this observation:
“Mobile applications not only empower individual users, they enrich their lifestyles and livelihoods, and boost the economy as a whole. Indeed, mobile applications now make phones immensely powerful as portals to the online world. A new wave of ‘apps,’ or smartphone applications, and ‘mashups’ of services, driven by high-speed networks, social networking, online crowdsourcing, and innovation, is helping mobile phones transform the lives of people in developed and developing countries alike. The report finds that mobile applications not only empower individuals but have important cascade effects stimulating growth, entrepreneurship, and productivity throughout the economy as a whole. Mobile communications promise to do more than just give the developing world a voice. By unlocking the genie in the phone, they empower people to make their own choices and decisions.”
Mobile phones have truly become the lever which lifts the world.
Worldwide Cycle Superhighways raise the bar
By Rachel James | July 19, 2012, 10:15 AM PDT
New York City, photo by Jason Yung
Copenhagen is at it again. The city’s new “cycle superhighway” makes the rest of us look like chumps.
Yes, New York City has a (painstakingly) established bike infrastructure. The city already boasts over 300 miles of bike lanes across all five boroughs. But the new bikesharing program, privately funded Citi Bike, looks like child’s play compared to Copenhagen’s.
Firstly, in New York City it will cost $9.95 to use a Citi Bike for half an hour.
In Copenhagen? A whopping $0. You guessed it, their bike sharing program is free.
Matt Kroneberger of The City Fix writes, “Though there are many different visions for cycling infrastructure, Copenhagen is adding the cycle superhighway to an extensive suite of biking options, including existing urban bike lanes and a free bike share system.”
I don’t mean to condemn efforts made to support urban cycling. I just have a hard time understanding why the rewards for cyclists are not greater in traffic heavy cities like New York.
As London gears up for the stress of the 2012 Olympic Games, The Barclays Bank-sponsored cycle superhighway is expanding an additional eight routes. At 9 miles long each, these new routes will connect many of London’s outer boroughs to the city center.
“The availability of bikeways and bike share is expected to increase overall bike traffic well above the 107 percent increase in biking that has already occurred in London since 2000,” writes Kroneberger.
Back in Copenhagen, where over one-third of the work force already commutes by bike, there is no doubt the new 13 mile path will enjoy many a wheel.
This route, from the western suburb of Albertslund into downtown Copenhagen, is the first of 26 planned routes. That’s 186 new miles of cyclist heaven.
[via: The City Fix]
Bellarine brainstorm 2050
July 13 2012
Bellarine business, community and political leaders came together last week putting up a swathe of big ideas
– some revolutionary to the economic and planning traditions of the region
– as authorities strive to thrash out a long term vision to 2050.
It began with local Bellarine surveyor turned international financier and project developer Lawrence Elms, who outlined his bold vision for a “six pier” development stretching out into Corio Bay with residential units and hotel accommodation, and a convention centre.
Then came his audacious suggestion that Alcoa could be swept from the Geelong and Bellarine landscape with an environmentally friendly community use area focusing on the natural beauty of Point Henry.
Governments could consider putting the millions of dollars of funding that has been allocated to Alcoa into a Special Economic Zone on the Bellarine.
There was great concern expressed by many speakers regarding urban sprawl across the Bellarine, with calls for harder town boundaries, a far better level of community engagement in planning and development processes, a need to switch from traditional manufacturing to the new service economy and greater emphasis on ecology.
The conference, put together by the Committee for Bellarine, was aimed at putting some “meat on the bones” of a strategy that resulted from the Bellarine 2050 Symposium in October 2011.
The Committee for Bellarine is driving a strategy that aims to secure the food, energy, employment and environmental future of the region locally. The executive director of the Committee for Bellarine, Tom O’Connor, said the Bellarine needed to have more than a series of structure plans for each township and that the focus must be on long term regional sustainability.
“The Bellarine is an area with a character, surrounded by water on three sides, with some very special geographic features,” he said.
“At the moment we have a population that swells from 45,000 to 120,000 on a summer’s day. We have to put in place better food, retail, accommodation and transport structures to maximise and harness the value of that. In 20-30 years time, we will have a permanent population that is much larger than today. That’s also a very big challenge for us today.
“We have great agricultural potential to secure food supplies locally, become sustainable water-wise, and to develop a better employment base.
“We have to take those industries to the next level and education is very important to that. Getting the right schooling, TAFE and university involvement is key to getting where we want to be in the future.”