My Local Buy Story: Quintessential Consulting
Feature Writer Patrick Albina, Founder and Director - Quintessential Consulting
Quintessential Consulting used the LB309 Business Management & Consulting Services panel to provide effective means to conduct a place-based engagement project across the City of Gold Coast’s core economic divisions.
The Gold Coast is Australia’s 6th largest city and one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia, enjoying affordable housing opportunities, high-quality education and health services and a desirable lifestyle. Market research conducted by Colliers in June 2022 indicated that to June 2021, the population growth for the Gold Coast over the previous 10-years has averaged 2.2% p.a, which is surpassed only by the Sunshine Coast (2.3%) and taking the total population to 659,498 persons within the Gold Coast (LGA). Over the same period, population growth in Queensland and Australia grew by 1.6% and 1.4% respectively.
The Gold Coast economy is underpinned by tourism, with Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services the second and third largest industry contributors to the overall economy. The region contains a highly diverse range of industry sectors across its 14 divisions, with Council needing to prepare and cater for the current and future skill needs of industries such as health, retail, construction, trade, marine, education & training and tourism. While the Gold Coast economy has not been immune to the current economic uncertainty and widespread lockdowns nationally, the long-term regional economic fundamentals are expected to underpin strong recovery and growth over the long term.
In mid-2022, the City of Gold Coast (the City) engaged Quintessential Consulting Pty Ltd through the LB309 Business Management & Consulting Services arrangement, to conduct a place-based engagement project across the City’s core economic divisions. The purpose of the project was to identify and validate the challenges and opportunities within the community and to help the City determine the most effective initiatives to promote community cohesion, business growth and economic development opportunities across the region.
Previous methodologies only provided Council with a partial understanding of the economic situation, with the analysis largely contained to the boundaries of each division. With the City’s desire to develop a holistic appreciation of the entire Gold Coast region, Quintessential applied its expertise in Systems Thinking and community-centred co-design to deliver a methodology that offered the City with the ability to:
- Identify a unique value proposition for each division and how to best leverage this for growth;
- Identify the key considerations for growth and cohesion within divisions and across multiple divisions when seen as a community;
- Define the interdependencies between divisions and how the divisions may support each other;
- Determine the impact of initiatives undertaken by the City on each division, particularly if they may be advantageous to some and detrimental to others;
- Enable balanced decision-making for the City, addressing both general regional requirements and specific division requirements.
By undertaking this engagement process, Quintessential was able to identify, validate, and develop key actions and recommendations for the City to support economic development across the region. The below table provides a high-level overview of the place-based engagement methodology design by Quintessential, which was repeated across multiple divisions throughout the Gold Coast region.
Data Collection & Analysis
Data was collected from the businesses in the divisions using several different methodologies so that the information could be collated, correlated, and viewed in different ways to explore all possible outcomes. Quintessential employed the following techniques:
- Prior to the workshop:
- Existing data provided by the City to offer a foundational understanding of the region
- Survey distributed throughout the business community and results collated by the City prior to the workshops
- During the workshop
- Interactive online information visualisation and sharing, with instant feedback
- A solution focused co-design process involving the cross-pollination of participants’ ideas
Data analysis was conducted through the application of holistic Systems Thinking approaches, specifically Systems Iceberg methodology and Systems Dynamics (Causal Loop Mapping), coupled with correlation analysis. These approaches allow for a much richer level of understanding of the situation and the opportunities to be leveraged. The identification of the causal factors that both drive and restrain growth has enabled the City to identify the trends and patterns:
- within a division
- between the community of divisions, and
- the impact of interventions by the City
The stakeholder engagement workshops were well attended. All workshops had full engagement of participants, resulting in open and honest discussions regarding the challenges and opportunities facing business and industry within the divisions of the City. Quintessential explored the driving and restraining forces affecting each division and found recurring themes associated with external factors driving the community culture and business growth. As a result, key themes and recommendations including those that have interrelated implications across two or more divisions were reported back to the City.
Some key themes from the findings included:
- The importance of identity and character for each region and the ability to leverage the differences to enhance the attractiveness of the Gold Coast as an eclectic community
- Establishing the right balance between growth, innovation, and stability
- Creating and maintaining a beneficial relationship between industry sectors, i.e., retail, tourism, education, construction etc
- The provision of accessible information provided by government/council for use by small-medium businesses, including practical and understandable language
- The importance of community resilience and the need for government/council to continually invest in the community
- The ease of transport between place of work and place of residence
The LB309 Business Management & Consulting Services panel provided an effective means to manage this project, creating minimal administrative burden, clear milestones, and efficient invoicing.
The Forward Plan
Moving forward the City will analyse and prioritise the identified challenges and opportunities raised by each of the divisions and determine the most effective responses to incorporate in future master planning whilst taking into consideration budgetary and time constraints.