Project Funding Overview
To date, Foundation Broken Hill has provided support through grants or interest-free loans to 100 separate initiatives – contributing almost $400,000 back into the community.
Fourteen grants were for less than $1,000, but made a big difference to the success of local events or provided opportunities for groups and individuals that may not have been possible without the Foundation. Generally, sponsored events have contributed to the local tourism industry and sponsored individuals have acquired training or skills which have the potential to generate wider long-term benefit in Broken Hill.
The largest contribution to date has been a $20,000 interest-free loan to assist the development of the Broken Hill Regional Events Centre and there have been other loans of similar amounts to facilitate the start-up of several new businesses. However, most contributions at this stage are arounf the $4,000 to $5,000 mark.
As the Capital Fund grows (and the annual income generated becomes larger) the Foundation will be able to make more significant contributions which, it is hoped, will play a greater role in stimulating new investment in the region to create new jobs.
Examples of long-term supported projects
A small company had developed a portable computerised safety system for managing explosives underground. The system was attracting interest in the mining industry but the company needed to ‘professionalise’ in order to turn ‘interest’ into ‘sales’.
In 2007, the Foundation provided a grant of less than $10,000 which allowed the company to establish an office in Broken Hill and market its product. Individual Foundation Directors also provided some mentoring support and the Board has maintained regular contact and provided support in a number of other small ways.
By providing ‘risk capital’ assistance at the start-up stage, the Foundation assisted a home-based start-up operation to move from development and trial stages into market sales and service.
The company is now employing three people, exporting its initial product external to Broken Hill, has developed new complementary products and has significant potential for growth. The company is now preparing to donate back to the Foundation’s Capital Fund.
A small manufacturing/retail outlet was given a grant of less than $10,000 in February 2008 to expand on-site equipment which would enable the business to supply an increased range of products locally and to export products intrastate and interstate.
Two people were employed to work with this equipment – one full-time-equivalent position (FTE) – and the sustainability of the family-run business (employing another 2.5 FTEs) has been significantly enhanced.
A 2009 project which has already achieved outcomes (and has significant on-going potential) involved a local business travelling to North America to promote Broken Hill as an adventure-based holiday destination.
The Foundation contributed less than $4000 to make this trip possible, but a number of travel agents have since visited the city on several ‘familiarisation tours’, with subsequent bookings achieved.
In 2006, the Foundation assisted Silverlea Employment and Training Services with a grant of $6000 to trial the production of lavender as a retail operation and tourist attraction.
Although there have been subsequent difficulties following subdivision of the land, the retail side of the operation continues, attracts tourists and provides employment for people with a disability.
The Foundation’s association with a locally based ‘green’ fertiliser manufacturer began back in 2003, with a grant of around $7000 to achieve CSIRO accreditation for its products.
The business’s progress has been monitored and assisted by Foundation Directors since that time (for example in protecting intellectual property and negotiating supply issues) and a further grant of less than $3000 was provided in 2010 to assist the business develop more professional packaging on an order into Bunnings (SA).
The business has grown to supply product to end-users in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory – and employment has fluctuated between two and ten FTE positions. This business is currently in an exciting development stage with significant potential for the future – and the Foundation remains involved in providing support.
Examples of projects supported with loan funds
In recent years the Foundation has developed a more loan-focussed approach to supporting business start-ups and expansions. However, Foundation loans are interest-free, with a negotiated time frame and a more flexible system of re-payment than possible with mainstream lenders.
We’re able to give businesses some ‘breathing room’ at crucial stages, which can have a significant impact on sustainability.
Loan examples include:
- A very small loan ($2000) to a start-up business involved in e-commerce to allow enhanced web-site development,
- $10,000 to float publication of a photography book which promotes Broken Hill,
- $15,000 for purchase of equipment in a take-way food business (in a cuisine not previously offered in Broken Hill) which enhances the tourist experience and now employs 3+ people,
- $10,000 to assist with start-up costs associated with a monthly local publication (which has employed up to three people and spawned a successful graphic design business),
- $15,000 to assist with start-up costs associated with a mobile catering business pitched at the film industry and outback mining ventures,
- $20,000 to assist with development of a purpose-built Event Centre at the historic Broken Hill Racecourse – which had stalled and was re-invigorated following the Foundation’s support. This loan has been partially repaid with a schedule of payments in process.
Some supported projects have focussed on enabling the Foundation to work in partnership with existing organisations to increase the capacity for sustainability and growth of small businesses in Broken Hill, such as:
- Sponsoring the Broken Hill Business Awards,
- Promoting School-Based Apprenticeships,
- Training and staff development for an organisation working with local small businesses,
- Sponsoring a Better Business workshop with Business Broken Hill, and
- Sponsoring small business workshops with the Broken Hill Enterprise Development Centre.
Other projects have had a specific focus on supporting the regional Tourism Industry, which is recognised as an important contributor to Broken Hill’s economic diversification. These projects have included:
- Contributing funds to increase the interstate ‘pull’ of a Music, Arts & Film Festival, an Art, Culture & Heritage Conference and an event promoting the city’s wealth in mineral specimens, and
- Assisting one local entrepreneur to develop a small museum promoting the city’s cultural heritage and another non-profit organisation to operate more professionally in conserving and displaying the city’s heritage.
Other projects which may be of interest include:
- A small grant to the Broken Hill Harness Racing Club to support the creation of a paid co-ordinator’s role which could facilitate the organisation’s sustainability, and
- Assisting a trainee dental technician to complete a qualification which has enabled her to establish a business in Broken Hill repairing dentures – a service not previously available locally.
In addition, the Foundation has also supported conferences, exhibitions, workshops, book publications, health projects, history projects and youth projects.