Free course refocuses business

Gippsland Trade Printers director Peter Ceeney said his business lost about five per cent of localised revenue after the closure of Hazelwood Power Station, but was able to plan for the future after completing a local course last year. photograph hayley mills

Gippsland Trade Printers director Peter Ceeney said his business lost about five per cent of localised revenue after the closure of Hazelwood Power Station, but was able to plan for the future after completing a local course last year. photograph hayley mills

Registrations for a free five-day course offered to businesses affected by the closure of Hazelwood Power Station have opened and former participants are encouraging local businesses to jump on board.

The Enterprise Development Program, a business course delivered by Federation University and funded by AGL, was created to help businesses with the transition of the power industry in the Latrobe Valley.

Past participant Gippsland Trade Printers director Peter Ceeney said his business lost 5 per cent of its revenue after the station's closure.

He estimated his business lost about $45,000 of its localised revenue on print but said he saw the program as an opportunity to sit down and plan for the future and strengthen some aspects of his operation.

"For us, the closure of Hazelwood was not as drastic as other businesses but it's still had an impact," Mr Ceeney, 50, said.

"It was only a small percentage of our business but really the attraction was to sit down and review our business model and where and what we were going to do down the track."

Mr Ceeney likened the course to a module in a business management degree.

"For example, they introduced us to a business model canvas which is a strategic tool to help challenge and potentially redesign your current business model," Mr Ceeney said.

"They also introduced us to online tools for benchmarking so that you could measure your businesses in comparison with other similar businesses from your own industry.

"They also had a very good marketing module from Dr Vaughan Reimers which told us to focus on

the story of our business and what we needed to put in place to enhance that story."

Course facilitator Lisa Hocking said it provided a forum for businesses to asses the current and future economy, their industry outlook, understanding where their organisation was placed and its capability and readiness for change.

"It provides practical tools and sources of knowledge to critically assess their organisations performance, target future opportunities and prepare them to reposition their organisation," Ms Hocking said.

"The participants gain value from a mix of industry participants, creating a support network and gain confidence to go back to their organisations and prepare to implement. "For some organisations this could mean just regaining lost competitive position or moving in a new direction."

AGL Loy Yang general manager Steve Rieniets said the course was an opportunity for businesses to grow and diversify as the economy shifted away from a coal-dependent future.

"The course, which incorporates marketing and evaluating other business opportunities, was well-regarded by the businesses who participated last year and so we decided to offer it again as part of our transition work in the Latrobe Valley," Mr Rieniets said.

"We had a number of different businesses take part last year from mining and earthworks suppliers, engineering and drafting companies to the local pizza shop and I encourage all local businesses who think they may benefit to apply for this year's program."

Applications close on July 2.

For more information visit agl.com.au/freecourse.

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