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Be aggressive and go for growth, says Chapman


Many SA business don’t want to grow, and many that do “don’t sell ourselves very well”, says Investment Agency supremo Rob Chapman. But, he insists: “We can become one of the best performing economies in the nation.”

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Learning to sell the state better and more aggressively while identifying South Australian businesses that actually want to grow is the challenge facing State Government, according to a leading businessman.

St George Bank CEO, Adelaide Crows chairman and inaugural chair of the state’s Investment Attraction Agency Rob Chapman will tell a gathering of SA’s most influential and successful business people today that Government’s role is to “set the tone, create the policy framework – and work with the businesses that have the capacity to grow and importantly, the desire to grow”.

“Not all businesses want to grow, and we need to respect that,” he says.

“However, we need to identify the ones that do. Who are they? How many are there? The truth is, we have an idea, but we don’t really know.”

Chapman says the Economic Development Board, of which he is deputy chair, is conducting a survey throughout October targeting companies determined to expand.

He identifies three “sources” of the business growth life cycle: start-ups, small-medium enterprises (SMEs) and Foreign Direct Investment through Major Global Companies.

He says while there is a “myriad” of funding available for SMEs, “we need to be targeted in our approach for supporting start-ups”.

“We need to identify, back and open markets for the start-ups,” he says.

“If we can get one to two per cent of Engine Room companies up and running, this will create jobs in the future.”

Chapman will deliver the keynote address at today’s InDaily SA Business Index lunch, telling the representatives of the state’s best performing companies that promoting the state nationally and globally “will be a core function” of his agency.

“How we promote the state is directly linked to the success of investment attraction efforts…and currently we don’t sell ourselves very well,” he says.

Chapman joined Premier Jay Weatherill and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith on recent missions to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, while delegations to China and India have also been much-hyped.

But he says “the brutal reality is – these markets do not know about us, or, if they do know anything about South Australia they have an incomplete picture”.

“The brand is getting some traction in the market – some of our global companies are incorporating it into their marketing and collateral – which helps to tell a consistent story about SA…but we need to do more. We need to be aggressive and unapologetic in how we promote the opportunities within our state.”

Chapman says Foreign Direct Investment is “fundamental to the state’s prosperity”, with his agency to take the lead in “defining and promoting (our) value proposition to potential investors”.

“We will report on our targets…this includes the total number of projects in the pipeline, the value of foreign direct investment we attract and the creation of new and sustainable jobs,” he says.

And he insists, despite ongoing economic malaise: “We can become one of the best performing economies in the nation.”

Chapman will tell the state’s biggest and most successful companies and their directors to “reach out to your networks – interstate and globally – and promote all the exciting opportunities in SA”.

“Let them know that Adelaide is one of the most liveable cities in the world, that we enjoy an enviable lifestyle and – yes, we can establish and grow successful global companies,” he says.

“There are 100 examples right here.”

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