An Upper Murray organisation’s move towards sustainability has been called an inspiration for other community groups.
Corryong Neighbourhood Centre this week received praise from its lender Social Enterprise Finance Australia for its vision in taking over a bakery and planning to buy a mechanical business.
SEFA head of portfolio management Hanna Ebeling said the centre’s approach was worth replicating.
“They’re doing extremely well, the bakery has already proven to be profitable,” she said.
“They were able to reinvest some of that surplus into the community activities that they are trying to fund.
“We are really proud of them showcasing what community organisations can deliver.”
Ms Ebeling said the Corryong centre continued to focus on providing employment and developing established businesses.
“Everybody needs a bakery, everybody needs a mechanics workshop,” she said.
“They’re not trying to create a new business that nobody needs, it’s actually part of the community and part of everyday life.”
Border business Jacob Group, an ongoing supporter of Corryong Neighbourhood Centre, has taken an interest in the mechanical venture.
Jacob Group general manager Dean Jacob said once up and running, the Walwa business and Jacob Toyota aimed to share skills through arrangements like onsite training and placements.
“I think it’s exciting for Walwa,” he said.
“I think it just strengthens the whole community up at Corryong, Walwa, Cudgewa, everyone else around there.
“It gives them an opportunity for the young guys who don’t want to work on the farm to experience a different industry.”
A volunteer committee of management has overseen Corryong Neighbourhood Centre’s new direction, with members mindful of their increased financial and administrative responsibilities.
Secretary Thea Newton remembered when members first heard the idea to buy Corryong’s existing bakery.
“There was silence in the room; ‘Pardon?’,” she recalled.
But Mrs Newton said the project had worked well.
“It’s employed young people and this is what is the crux of the matter,” she said.
“If we don’t look after our young people in this community, the community dies.”