Faces of the Wheatbelt - Innovation Central Midlands

October 02, 2017 at 2:45 PM

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Imagine a world of display home quality living space and affordable fibre optic internet connectivity in WA's Wheatbelt.

Establishing homes of this standard and high speed internet are key concepts for Innovation Central Midlands WA Inc. (ICM).

ICM is an incorporated Association created by the shires of Dalwallinu, Moora and Wongan-Ballidu to offer improved economic and social outcomes in a more entrepreneurial way than traditional local government structures allow. Each shire nominates three community members to the Board of Innovation Central Midlands WA Inc. which is chaired by retired local MP Brian Ellis. This Board guides the developments undertaken by the ICM and its subsidiary company, Central Midlands Construction (CMC). 

ICM’s focus is to provide strategic direction to CMC which investigates the viability of select projects and seeks funding to bring them to fruition. 

“When we make a profit, there will be dividends going back to the three major shareholders of CMC, the Shires. These returns will benefit communities by supporting existing programs and new initiatives.” Said Steve Mason, CEO of Central Midlands Construction. 

ICM, through CMC have already undertaken a number of housing projects and hope to build a range of aged appropriate unit developments in the three shires. ICM is currently working on a proposal to investigate the viability of a stand-alone telecommunications company that can provide enterprise grade business broadband to the grainbelt of Western Australia. 

While the provision of housing is not ‘core business’ for local government, ICM is responding to the key factor that limits the growth of these towns and regions – a lack of quality housing stock. 

“CMC builds and/or procures housing on behalf of Shires using local tradespeople where possible, rather than relying on outside contractors,” Steve says. 

CMC then offers long or short-term leases, lease/purchase or outright purchase opportunities to companies including banks and machinery dealerships. Under the agreement, a Fleetwood Homes display home was recently procured and placed in Dalwallinu for Boekeman Machinery to house a staff member. 

In Moora, a new modular home will be used by emergency services for patients waiting for the Royal Flying Doctor Service as well as being hired out to visitors or short-term residents on weekends. 

The ICM and CMC arrangement is unique in Western Australia as no other local governments have tried this structure before. 

The Shires of Dalwallinu, Moora and Wongan-Ballidu should be congratulated on taking an entrepreneurial approach to economic and social development. 

Mr Mason will present new housing proposals at a Dalwallinu business sundowner and to the Shire of Moora later this month.

Image: Steve Mason, CEO of Central Midlands Construction

The Faces of the Wheatbelt project is proudly funded by the Avon Community Development Foundation and the Wheatbelt Development Commission

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