Faces of the Wheatbelt - ACDF
April 05, 2017 at 3:25 PM
For nearly 30 years, a small not-for-profit group has been improving economic outcomes in the Avon Valley. Today it sports a $5.25 million balance sheet and has successfully leveraged $36.4 million in infrastructure.
Targeting economic development through increased employment, education and health the Avon Community Development Foundation (ACDF) has built a sound platform to benefit the Avon and surrounding region.
The Foundation is proudly this month’s Faces of the Wheatbelt winner.
Chief Executive Officer Paul Tomlinson says the ACDF has always used a simple recipe for success.
“We have always been about creating growth in jobs, industry and commerce as well as improving educational and health prospects for the area,” he says.
What began three decades ago with seed money from Avon Valley shire councils and private supporters has grown into a multi-million dollar facilitator.
The Avon Valley Residency Aged Care facility and the creation of the 456 hectare Avon Industrial Park were ACDF’s initial projects. The Group also helped develop the CY O’Connor TAFE campuses across the Wheatbelt. Coordinating the Emergency Heliport facility at the Northam Hospital is another lifesaving achievement.
Following a request from State Government, ACDF stepped in to develop a grey-water solution to the Northam Race Club’s unsustainable rising costs of watering its track.
For each project the Foundation found a way to work cohesively across Wheatbelt government, commerce and industry to achieve strong economic results for the local community.
One of the latest collaborations is Mortlock Gardens - a new housing development providing short and long-term rental housing for locally employed workers.
Mr Tomlinson says while the make-up of the Foundation may have changed over the years, the fundamentals have remained the same. He praised the current and preceding Boards for their selfless vision and determination and for the partnership of ACDF’s strategic allies.
“We believe in working side by side not in front or behind other government agencies or commercial interests,” he says.
Rather than fearing inevitable change, Mr Tomlinson says you have to embrace it, citing the Global Financial Crisis as an inhibiting factor to growth in recent years.
“Change will always happen, so it’s about being proactive to change, to try and direct that change and be able to benefit from it.”
Mr Tomlinson says the group is made up of members who value each other enormously.
“They are people who are smart enough to realise if their neighbours benefit then they too will benefit from a collaborative approach,” he says.
Image (Left to Right): Simon Northey, ACDF Chairman and Paul Tomlinson, ACDF Chief Executive Officer.