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Optimism, entrepreneurial spirit key to SA's future


South Australia needs to confront its economic challenges with optimism, a sense of freedom and an entrepreneurial spirit, argues Business SA chief executive Nigel McBride.

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As we all know, South Australia is in the middle of a substantial economic transformation – a transformation that presents a range of challenges, a seismic economic shift that is occurring at an unprecedented pace, and that is driven by both digital disruption and significant changes to global markets.

It’s tempting in times like this to see ourselves somehow as victims.

But these very challenges, these global pathways, economic changes, and technologies, also provide us with extraordinary opportunities.

They provide us with unprecedented access to new markets and a myriad of yet to be realised potential.

But only if we respond with vision, and agility, and only if we seize these opportunities with confidence and self-belief.

If ever there was a time to look forward, a time to see those opportunities, it’s now.

So today, let’s take a few moments to reimagine the future of South Australia.

If we are to make aspirations a reality, then Business SA must also aspire to be the organisation that supports the kind of confidence and self-belief our State’s business sector needs.

The kind of support that provides a canvas to paint a far brighter future.

For it is one thing to aspire, it is another to inspire. And genuine leadership is ultimately about the ability to inspire.

I sincerely hope that in years to come we will look back and see 2016 as a pivotal time of change.

A time when we ceased to react to the impact of an increasingly globalised economy, and instead began to lead – by playing to our many strengths.

A time when we stopped seeing free trade pathways as dark avenues of global competition, but instead saw them as open doorways to enormous market opportunities.

I also hope we look back to a time of extraordinary innovation and collaboration across our industries, universities, and governments.

A time when we didn’t see other South Australian interests as competitors but, instead, as future partners.

That the sheer scale and demands of a rising global middle class became an unprecedented catalyst for that cooperation and collaboration to occur.

And I hope we look back to a time when we had the courage to explore even the most controversial opportunities, when we solved some of the world’s toughest problems, and forged generational prosperity in doing so.

But this will only be possible if we approach every challenge with optimism, with an entrepreneurial spirit and with the freedom to plot the course of our own economic destiny.

These traits are central not only to what we aspire do at Business SA, but they are traits that are synonymous with Brand Australia.

This is an edited version of McBride’s speech at the “Back to Business” event last week.

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