The Shire of Augusta Margaret River has recently become the first certified ECO Destination in Western Australia, and has partnered with the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry to launch a Local-Is-More program to encourage the community to buy locally.
The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River joined the SBDC’s Small Business Friendly program in May 2019. Since then the Shire has launched, and actively engaged in, activities to support and encourage local small businesses. Compared to state averages, the Augusta-Margaret River region has a higher percentage of retail trade and accommodation and food services1 small businesses, in keeping with the area’s reputation as a sought-after lifestyle and holiday destination.
The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, along with the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MRCCI), launched Local-Is-More in June 2020. The campaign, built around a dedicated website, focuses on the concept of localism (an approach that emphasises thinking local first when considering purchasing goods or services), and building a story around the strength of the local community.
Most small businesses in Augusta-Margaret River are owned and run by members of the community. The Local-Is-More website tells stories of these business owners and how they give back to the communities where they live, as well as promoting initiatives that encourage people to buy local. The website also includes educational information about the benefits of supporting local businesses, and how to choose local.
As part of the campaign, the Shire funded MRCCI to work with a company called ‘Cards4All’, that creates geographically restricted EFTPOS cards. Branded Local-Is-More Margaret River Region gift cards, to be used with retailers and service providers across the area, are available for sale and redemption in local businesses that meet at least three out of four the following criteria:
- are at least 50 per cent locally owned and operated
- employ locals
- procure supplies locally, and
- support the local community through sponsorship, donations or other efforts.
The gift cards can store up to $1,000 and are valid for three years.
So far, approximately 46 local businesses in the area have signed up to accept Local-Is-More gift cards. These businesses range from tyre shops and restaurants to accommodation and wineries, as well as a range of grocery stores. The program is continuing to expand with the intention of getting as many local businesses in the area as possible on board. Within the first three weeks of launching Local-Is-More, $20,000 worth of gift cards were sold, helping to support local small businesses.
A range of marketing material, created by a local designer, is available to promote the program – for example, stickers that local businesses can display to show that they accept the Local-Is-More gift cards. Posters promoting the concept are also available on the website to share on social media.
In keeping with the sustainability focus of the Shire, the used plastic gift cards from the program are recycled by partner Precious Plastic Margaret River and used to create products like surfboard fins, hair combs and plant pots to sell. This helps to keep money circulating within small businesses in the community.
Eco certified local small businesses
The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River recently became the first ECO Certified Destination in Western Australia and the fourth across Australia. The process involved satisfying 105 criteria over a period of 18 months. It is globally recognised and shows that the Shire is taking active steps to maintain and look after the environment and community.
The certification draws visitors interested in ecotourism to the area, which results in responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the wellbeing of local people and involves interpretation and education. The Shire has recognised the need to spread out visitors over time to avoid over-tourism and educate visitors to understand the environmental and cultural values of the region.
The Shire works with the local tourism association to deliver support packages for tourism operators and local small businesses by providing them with one on one mentoring and additional marketing exposure. Subsidies are also provided to encourage them to get eco certified. These initiatives provide small businesses with the opportunity to upskill and generate more exposure. So far, nine small businesses have begun the process with four gaining their eco certification so far. This encourages businesses to operate more sustainably and also brings more revenue by attracting visitors to the area who support sustainable living.
- Read about the unique Local-Is-More program and check out the Instagram and Facebook pages.
- Find out more about the Shire’s ECO Destination Certification.
- Keep up to date with all the latest news from the Shire of Augusta Margaret River through their Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
1Australian Bureau of Statistics (June 2020) 8165.0 Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, June 2016 to June 2021, [time series spreadsheet], accessed 12 January 2022