Yackandandah decided NOT to be a ‘Safeway town’
A reader has put us onto the success story of a NE Victorian community of 688 who saved the town’s last fuel outlet and stopped the retail leakage that would have inevitably occurred with locals travelling 33 clicks up the road to ‘big smoke’ Wodonga.
In 2002 Yack faced a crisis when it seemed the town would soon lose its last petrol station…. but 12 months later the town had rallied and built a new community-owned and funded service station capable of meeting longer-term community needs. It supplies fuel at competitive rates and Yack now maintains its own brand of fuel….Y-fuel!
At the recent ‘Owning your Future’ (page 4) conference – run by the Institute for Regional Studies, Monash University Gippsland – this community/economic development story was told (pdf). Mark MacKenzie-McHarg started with the hard question:
Who’s really accountable?
There were comments we’ve all heard before:
But it was a matter of ‘looking in the mirror’ and Yack did. It was decided they had to:
To do this they needed to unlock some serious community capital, to ‘buy’ community trust and goodwill and to have a real business plan positioning the servo as an investment NOT a donation!
The Yackandandah Community Development Company was born. It had seven shareholders, a big idea and NO MONEY! They launched the 2003 Public Share Offer to Yack residents.
The Goal: sell 3-4000 shares to locals @ $100 each
“We will contribute 50% of the distributed profits to projects, causes or initiatives which will benefit the economic, social or cultural condition of the Yackandandah community or its surrounding areas.”
They got talking…
They DID raise the money, over $400,000, then they had to build a new servo to replace the outdated roadside fuel outlet. They used local expertise, called in lots of favours, learnt a lot…had fun..with tolerant partners. The Council and State Government helped, the latter contributing $119,757 towards developing a new industrial estate to support the new service station.
The government money came from the Small Towns Development Fund, funded through the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund provides matching grants of up to $200,000 for towns with populations of generally less than 10,000.
THEN YCDCo had to run the enterprise and deal with governance, new people & new perceptions and shareholder expectations and participation. Mark identifies the current challenges to the group as:
The Financial Results
Gross Sales (2005/6): $2.3 million
Underlying Earnings (2005/6): $35,000
Dividend (2005/6): $4.00/share
Community Commitment: over $33,000 so far……
35,000 litres p/wk (from 11,000)
$7,000/wk sales – rural supplies/hardware
c.$3 million T/O forecast for 06/07
3 local jobs
It would be interesting to get Maleny people – with their many coops – talking with Yack people…. Do you have a story about a community enterprise you can share with PWF readers? Successful or otherwise?
FYI this story rates a mention on the US website Smart Communities – Civic change in your community and beyond.