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Melbourne precincts funding shake-up

18 Mar 2013

The City of Melbourne funding of destination marketing groups, such as the Yarra River Business Association (YRBA), has undergone a change in structure, with the abolishment of over-arching Melbourne Business Precincts (MBP) organisation.

MBP was established to bring together Melbourne’s eight business precincts, pooling their funding and encouraging them to undetake joint marketing campaigns.

A council review into the MBP program found “various issues associated with the MBP program 2011-13,” which included:

Lack of collaboration;
Duplication of activities by MBP (of what the council was already doing);
Extra costs;
Confusion regarding program objectives and performance requirements; and
A lack of standard process.

The review put forward a new model for 2013-17, whereby funding is distributed to associations individually, as was the case before the formation of MBP.

YRBA President John Ahern said his major concern was first and foremost maintaining the association’s funding and, therefore, its ability to market the Yarra River region.

“The important thing is that council has reaffirmed its commitment to a precinct program, regardless of any change in how it is administered, so that augurs well for the future of the city’s precinct associations,” Mr Ahern said.

He also pointed out that, despite YRBA’s full support and co-operation with the MBP model, it had become unworkable in recent times.

“It became clear very quickly that each precinct had its own specific issues and challenges, which made collaboration difficult.”

“YRBA still believes there is room for a more co-operative and cross-precinct approache to business development in the city.”

The new program will require each group to have at least 25 paid members. The council also outlined objectives for these associations, such as marketing and promotional activities, representing the interest and views of precinct members and to seek opportunities for recognised associations to collaborate with each other.

Each association is eligible to apply for up to $75,000 annually under the new scheme, $25,000 for administration and $50,000 for marketing, with funding to be determined by the number of members in each association.

As for YRBA funding, Mr Ahern said the new program might be advantageous towards the YRBA.

“The revised program could see an increase in funding for YRBA, or at least maintain the existing level of funding,” Mr Ahern said.

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