Ben Riches.
Ben Riches. Renee Albrecht

New business space will grow Gympie start-ups, entrepreneurs

TAFE Queensland has answered the calls of Gympie region business owners for a community co-working space, with the official unveiling of a new shared-space at their Gympie campus today.

The co-working space has been created in response to the growing number of start-ups and entrepreneurs in the region.

TAFE Queensland East Coast region's Centre Director for Creative and Digital, Angela Lisle said Gympie Regional Council had already booked the space for several upcoming workshops and networking events.

"The Gympie community has identified a need for a space like this, with the volume of small business start-ups and entrepreneurs in the area continuing to grow,” Ms Lisle said.

"The percentage of start-ups in this region is phenomenal and as an organisation that strongly encourages innovation and is dedicated to supporting local business, TAFE Queensland felt it was important to provide Gympie's community with access to professional facilities where they can work, hold meetings and undertake workshops.”

The innovative space - dubbed the Fish Tank in homage to successful entrepreneurial TV show Shark Tank - will open less than two weeks after it was announced the Sunshine Coast will become home to an international submarine cable in 2020, which will provide Australia's fastest telecommunications connection to Asia and the second fastest to the United States.

"There has never been a better time for entrepreneurs looking to make a go of it in the this region. Southeast Queensland is really becoming an innovation hub thanks to its connectivity and we want to ensure that as a region, we are ready for that growth,” Ms Lisle said.

Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Ben Riches
Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Ben Riches Scott Kovacevic

Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Ben Riches has been championing the idea for the last two years and said he was glad to see it finally become a reality.

"I've been pushing to try and get progress on a co-working space for Gympie for a while now, so I was ecstatic when I heard about what TAFE Queensland were doing,” Mr Riches

"There are a lot of small businesses here that could really benefit from this space; whether they don't have the funds yet to rent a space of their own, or they're simply looking for somewhere to share ideas and expertise.”

While the space has been created to support fledgling businesses in the area, Mr Riches said he believed working in a shared space would foster innovation among the Gympie business community in general.

"It will give local entrepreneurs and business people the chance to feed off each other's energy. Most businesses experience the same problems, so by working in a room of like-minded people who may have faced similar issues, you have the ability to bounce ideas of each other.

Local businesswoman and fashion designer Cindy Vogels has also lent her support to the project.

"Because I travel a lot with my work I'm aware of the co-working spaces in other areas, and I've always felt our town has had a void in that regard,” Ms Vogels said.

Cindy Vogels with models at Eumundi
Cindy Vogels with models Contributed

"My greatest work is collaborative, so to me it makes sense for our region to embrace a shared space like this. There are so many opportunities that can flow from coming together and sharing different ideas and perspectives, and as a small regional town I think it's important for our businesses to support each other.”