The butcher, the baker and the website maker… regional businesses gain new skills at the Digital Garage

The butcher, the baker and the website maker... Businesses of all shapes and sizes across regional New South Wales took part in Digital Garage workshops this month to gain new digital skills and learn how they can use the web to grow their business.

Google joined forces with the NSW Business Chamber and the local chambers of commerce and councils to host events in Wollongong, Wagga Wagga and West Wyalong designed to help local businesses make the most of the web.

The Minister for Small Business and Member for Riverina, Hon Michael McCormack MP spoke at this week's Digital Garage events in Wagga Wagga and West Wyalong and urged local businesses to get online.

Minister McCormack said digital platforms present huge opportunities for Australian businesses to reach new customers and grow their operations.

Minister McCormack with West Wyalong business owner 

In Wagga Wagga and West Wyalong, more than 160 local businesses took part in the workshop and heard from local business champions, including Matt Beaver from Carry Them Close, who started a baby carrier business after having his first child and now ships across Australia from their home in Wagga Wagga.

Google’s Duncan McGrath and Richard Flanagan with Wagga Wagga business owners Jill Tucker and Matt Beaver

Another local business leader, Jill Tucker spoke about how the internet has enabled her to reach new customers. Jill started Erilan after identifying a gap in the market to provide quality products and understanding for women who have undergone a mastectomy. Jill now has customers across Australia with 90 per cent of sales through the e-commerce site.

Local businesses at The Digital Garage in West Wyalong 

Earlier this month, we worked with the NSW Business Chamber and Illawarra Business Chamber to host a Digital Garage event at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus.

Parliamentarians Senator Katy Gallagher, Shadow Minister for Small Business and Financial Services; Stephen Jones MP, Shadow Minister for Regional Communications; and Sharon Bird MP, Member for Cunningham joined small businesses from the South Coast and Illawarra to hear more about getting online.

Google's Richard Flanagan, Stephen Jones MP, Senator Katy Gallagher and Sharon Bird MP

Local business, Jamberoo Action Park spoke about how they used digital tools to promote their offering and reach new customers, resulting in increased ticket sales and ongoing growth.

These stories from local businesses across NSW are consistent with research from Deloitte which shows highly digitally engaged small businesses are more likely to be growing revenue, creating jobs and exporting.

However, more than 90% of businesses are not taking full advantage of digital tools. At Google, we believe everyone should have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to succeed online, that’s why we launched The Digital Garage to help close the gap in digital skills and help small business make the most of the web.

The final stop for The Digital Garage this month is Tamworth on Thursday 29 June - register now to attend or check out The Digital Garage in your own time!