Case Study

Local Government Economic Development Strategy


The focus of local economic development should be on building up the capacity and capability of an area to improve quality of life. With that in mind, we embarked on the development of the Shire of West Arthur’s first economic development strategy.


First steps

The Shire of West Arthur is a small local government nestled between the forests of the South West and the Wheatbelt to the east, with close proximity to Perth, Bunbury, Albany, and Narrogin. Darkan, the main administrative centre is located approximately 200 kilometres southeast of Perth, 60 kilometres from Collie and 115 kilometres from Bunbury. Traditionally a wool producing region, primary producers have moved into grain and meat production in recent years, with most operating mixed farming enterprises.

To support the Shire of West Arthur diversify their economy and leverage opportunities, BlueSalt Consulting (formerly Anna Dixon Consulting) was engaged to develop their first economic development strategy and action plan. Central to the approach was ensuring the strategy and plan were practical and tailored to the resources available for implementation.


Untapped opportunities

Too often we see tools and approaches applied in a ‘one size fits all’ way, particularly in regional settings, and we are dedicated to ensuring our clients receive an individualised approach for the best outcomes.

Given the focus of economic development is improving quality of life, a key element in our approach was the use of our bespoke community profiling, enabling local governments to look beyond traditional economic indicators. Our work draws upon the concepts underpinning the OECD Framework for Measuring Wellbeing and Progress, but tailored to be applicable in a small regional local government setting. Covering a range of social, economic and environmental indicators, our profiling helped unveil untapped opportunities as well as areas needing further focus.

We also carried out an analysis of the Shire’s comparative and competitive strengths, combining this with extensive stakeholder engagement to identify seven priority areas for success. We identified a range of opportunities for industry diversification in the Shire and value-adding for premium niche products.

Participants at a workshop in the Shire of West Arthur, sitting at grouped tables
Cover of Shire of West Arthur Economic Development Strategy document

Practical and high impact

We were able to develop a ten-year strategy that integrated with their community strategic plan and planning scheme, to support the local government and broader community pursue practical, high-impact activities within their resources.

The Plan focused on leveraging strengths and looking at ways to improve or diversify existing industries, as well as a focus on strategic partnerships for diversification and growth.

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