Rivalry is an interesting concept. In any range of contests it seems that the closer you are to your rival the more intense the rivalry. Sibling rivalry can be incredibly intense. Best friends can put everything into a contest to have bragging rights with their friend. Formula One drivers have a first priority of beating their fellow team member. A local footy derby seems to take on greater significance than playing a team from afar.

In terms of other cities, many Local Government Areas seem to have some natural rivals. Often cities that are similar and nearby seem to be seen as rivals. Dubbo often looks at Orange as a rival for government services and grants. Bathurst and Orange – just by the nature of how close they are – are natural rivals. Albury and Wagga Wagga are similarly natural rivals.

It was with that backdrop that I remember attending my first meeting where this rivalry was challenged. Way back on 21 July 2006, I sat through a presentation that changed my view completely. At that meeting, Gary Wells from Wagga Wagga delivered a presentation that suggested regional cities should stop competing against each other and join together in presenting a united front to promote ourselves as a group. I was an immediate convert. After extensive research and lobbying for government money, the then Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean launched Evocities on 22 September 2010. With specific criteria created to be classified as an Evocity (such as a growing population over 25,000, education facilities, quality infrastructure, live theatre, galleries etc) Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga became part of the inaugural Evocities program.

Evocities is much more than a marketing campaign; it is collaboration among seven inland cities to motivate people to live, work and invest in an Evocity.

This is not about a tree-change or a sea-change. The Evocities message focuses on a ‘city-change’. If you enjoy living in a major metropolitan area with access to theatre and shopping choices and a wide range of facilities, then you should consider an Evocity because all of those things are on offer along with a better quality of life; the benefits without the drawbacks. Research clearly shows that the ‘pull’ factors in an Evocity are lifestyle, affordability and amenities and the ‘push’ factors are traffic, housing prices and congestion. The marketing is designed to hit people when they are most vulnerable – for example,  travelling on a Sydney motorway. Whilst crawling through traffic on your one-hour commute to work, a billboard for an Evocity certainly looks more attractive. In fact, we have a current Council employee who tells the story that he used to sit on the M4 each day shaving and eating breakfast while on his long commute to work and the intrigue of the Evocity concept eventually became too much for him. After researching available jobs, he made the move to Dubbo.

This is a common Evocity story, with the Evocities officially recording over 900 households having made the move as a direct result of the campaign so far.

Research shows that each new household has 3.5 people on average and a new household gives a direct boost to the economy of that city of almost $95,000 per year. Evocities statistics primarily captures data from people that register through the program as well as data supplied by each Evocity Council. There are many more people who see the positive image of an Evocity and make the move and may not be captured in the Evocities statistics. Dubbo has provided information to over 2000 individual enquiries. The Evocities have attracted over 853 new households as a result of the campaign as at January 2013. That’s a direct boost of over $80M per annum for the Evocities.

With the third anniversary of Evocities approaching, the program has attracted over $3.5M of Federal and State funding to date, along with corporate sponsorship and funding from the seven cities. With a total contribution over three years of $3.5M and a return of $80M annually into the Evocity economies, that’s a return of 22.8:1. Not a bad ROI!

Jobs are a primary driver of people making the move to an Evocity. Ongoing research reveals the number one barrier that stops people making the move is the perception that there are no jobs or no employment opportunities in an Evocity. I can certainly back that up with strong anecdotal evidence. Our New Residents Nights, held every six months, attract up to 70 people with many stating that finding a job was critical in making the move to Dubbo. As a response, the Evojobs website has been created as a crucial component of the ongoing sustainability of Evocities. I encourage employers looking for staff (which seems to be the majority of employers) to register their details on the free Evojobs website and join the 2000 employers who have uploaded 11,000 jobs.

The Evocities concept is certainly a great story in the greater good of all Evocities being more important than some inter-city rivalry. The energy, vision and opportunity provided by Evocities will help to make regional NSW sustainable into the future.

Tell me if you made the move to an Evocity as a result of the Evocities campaign at mayor@dubbo.nsw.gov.au.

Clr Mathew Dickerson

Mayor of the City of Dubbo




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