IT SPEAKS OF THE RESILIENCE REQUIRED BY TOWNSVILLE BUSINESSES AND ORGANISATIONS TO NAVIGATE TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES; THE ABILITY OF A TEAM TO PULL TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE GREAT THINGS QUICKLY AND INSPIRE CONFIDENCE THAT IF THE TOWNSVILLE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTRE (TBDC) CAN TURN THINGS AROUND IN THE FACE OF IMMINENT COLLAPSE, SO TOO CAN YOUR BUSINESS.
The TBDC has assisted thousands of local businesses to start-up, grow and succeed and have helped generate thousands of new jobs for Townsville. Yet as recently as March this year, the 23-year history of this not-for-profit, business support organisation appeared to be at an end.
Concerns over its operational management, the loss of critical government funding, staff departures and consequential rising debt had the TBDC on the verge of collapse. Having received insolvency advice and with creditors were knocking on the door, the Board was fighting tooth and nail to keep the doors open.
Acting Chair, Greg Leslie, never wavered in his commitment and belief in what the TBDC could achieve, even pledging his own funds if needed to keep the centre alive.
The number of Directors was down to just three including Greg, Mark Rushbrook and Derrick Evans when they invited business improvement and turnaround specialist Michael Brennan of Offermans Partners into the fray.
Mr Brennan took on the role of Chair, marking the beginning of a new future for the TBDC. One that would not only see it rapidly return to its former success, but would improve upon the level of service delivery, collaboration, profitability and wider positive impact it had achieved for Townsville businesses.
Mr Brennan said the multi-skilled Board, operational leadership of new CEO Ben Verning, support of Office Manager Debbie Jeffrey, along with the team’s collective commitment to turn things around were all key to the revival.
“The TBDC’s story is not one to shy away from, but rather one to celebrate as an example of what can be achieved in any business or organisation, even when all seems hopeless,” Mr Brennan said.
“The TBDC was not immune to the challenges experienced by most organisations from time-to-time – our story could be that of any other Townsville SME,” he said.
“Having come from the verge of closure earlier this year to now be at full Business Incubator capacity, with a revival of stakeholder relationships, the generation of strong new partnerships and most importantly being able to help more local businesses succeed, is certainly something we’re proud of.
“It hasn’t been by chance. It required strategic Board renewal, the willingness to take a good honest look at how operational decisions were being made followed by decisive action.”
The resulting momentum has generated a string of positive outcomes including the centre’s Small Business Incubator achieving full tenant capacity for the first time in 12 years.
A space within the Vickers Road Facility will now be converted into an additional unit to meet increasing demand.
“The TBDC has made some great moves in the right direction and now we need to continue that momentum to ensure we can achieve our true focus, which is helping more Townsville businesses succeed,” CEO Ben Verning said.
“We are experiencing a revival in business and entrepreneur confidence in Townsville on the back of announcements regarding water security and upcoming projects for the region.
“We’re looking forward to working together with like-minded partners and advocacy bodies like the Chamber of Commerce, Townsville Enterprise and Townsville City Council to ensure this story has a happy ending, not just for the TBDC but for Townsville businesses and the locals who own, manage and work in them every day.”