(From left) Ed Sims (Maranoa Regional Council); Camille Johnson (Roma Commerce and Tourism); Deb Joppich (Maranoa Regional Council); Katrina Marsh (Santos); Sherrill Stivano (Maranoa Innovation Network - Project Manager); Jody Dare (Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning)
(From left) Ed Sims (Maranoa Regional Council); Camille Johnson (Roma Commerce and Tourism); Deb Joppich (Maranoa Regional Council); Katrina Marsh (Santos); Sherrill Stivano (Maranoa Innovation Network - Project Manager); Jody Dare (Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning)

New business network to promote unique Maranoa businesses

Country blacksmithing, all-natural insect repellent, and convenient delivery for animal lick are just some of the innovative and quirky projects a new southwest business organisation hopes to promote over the coming year.

The Maranoa Innovation Network was set up to promote and support innovative businesses across the region to help them grow and develop.

Project manager Sherrill Stivano said the MIN is a pilot business incubator that will run for the rest of 2021 to provide mentoring and workshops to projects, and is designed to build capacity in local businesses.

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“We’re looking to support them to grow and develop,” she said.

The MIN is an initiative of the Maranoa Regional Council’s Business Excellence Program, which is also supported by Santos, Roma Commerce and Tourism, and the Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation.

Funding will come from Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise for the Advancing Regional Innovation Program.

Ms Stivano said COVID has made people realise that they don’t need to be in the city to start groundbreaking new businesses.

“Out of COVID... it’s the first time we’re starting to see a bit of decentralisation of businesses,” she said.

Since this is a new type of organisation, there is some uncertainty about the needs of the organisations and the gaps within the market, but the MIN is hoping to work towards identifying these as the pilot program progresses.

Three of the Maranoa businesses that will be part of the program include blacksmithing company Farmers Forge, natural insect repellent Off-Squito, and Nutri-Lick’s Ute Chute.

Ms Stivano said she wants to be a part of the MIN to help assist local businesses and help them with their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

“I have a passion not just for the Maranoa Region, but economic growth and development,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to support businesses in that space.”

The MIN will officially launch tonight, February 4, at the Royal on Ninety Nine at Roma.

Guest speakers will include Wotif co-founder Andrew Brice as well as Julia Spicer from Goondiwindi’s Engage and Create Consulting.

Tickets are free and eighty people are already booked for the event.

To book tickets, click here.

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