Most towns throughout the State have a chamber of commerce to advocate for local business, and Newman is no exception.
These groups offer a forum for networking and professional support, but the Newman Chamber of Commerce and Industry is taking this to the next level with a strong focus on innovation and helping small business prepare for the jobs of the future.
Led by long-time local resident Tania Tucker as Business Development Manager, the chamber entered into a three-year Innovation Partnership with BHP last year. The aim was to help change people’s perspectives on how they can work and encourage businesses to look at innovative practices they might not otherwise have considered.
Under the partnership, BHP will offer members tours of its Jimblebar mine which has a fully autonomous truck fleet.
In February, the chamber hosted a successful Innovation Family Day, drawing about 600 people to experience a range of technologies, including virtual reality, BHP’s exoskeleton suit and Monadelphous’ robotic car.
It is also participating in the Pilbara-wide Launchpad initiative, which includes a series of online workshops which provide a platform for local businesspeople to float their innovative ideas and receive mentoring and assistance to develop them. Participants get to pitch their ideas to a local audience of stakeholders, community, industry and government, with the winner going to a Regional Pitchfest in Port Hedland later this year. The winner of the regional event will be connected to mentors, investment and Accelerator Training opportunities across the State.
Beyond the innovation program, the chamber’s 144 members are able to take part in a range of regular events, including monthly after-hours networking gatherings, and visits to local facilities, such as the shire and police complex.
Tania says the aim is to cater for and support businesses of all sizes in Newman. “We don’t exclude anybody,” she says.
Its support role for local operators has come to the fore during the COVID-19 period, with Tania contacting all members personally to understand their needs. The chamber has hosted a series of popular webinars to keep members informed on topics including payroll, marketing, artificial intelligence, juggling work at home with parenting, and cyber safety.
Tania has been with the chamber for four years, bringing her experience from more than 20 years in Newman to the role. In the past she has run small businesses and worked in a wide variety of fields. Away from work, she volunteers with animal rescue group SAFE and tutors children with disabilities.