SOME of South Australia’s best minds have launched a new campaign to lure more big companies to Adelaide as part of ambitious to drive economic growth across the state.
The Committee for Adelaide, whose membership include business, charity and arts leaders, is lobbying to have at least two publicly-listed companies and a major international brand to move to the city within two years.
The committee, which is politically neutral, is already in discussions with one major Australian Securities Exchange-listed company while a further 10 national chief executives will be taken on a tour of the state as part of a lobby campaign.
Bespoke Approach partner Ian Smith, a committee board member and spokesman, said positive talks were progressing with an unnamed top 20 ASX-listed company chairman about moving operations to the city.
“We are engaging with people — leaders — interstate about what can be done,” said Mr Smith, a leading lobbyist.
“It is early stages. It is realising where we have fallen down in the past. It is not just a rah rah rah exercise.”
Among the committee’s chief goals is to attract at least one, potentially two, ASX-listed companies to set up headquarters in the state, and ideally within the CBD, by the end of next year.
Officials also want at least one international company to set up its home in SA instead of Sydney or Melbourne and further entice a “major” foreign brand to establish a regional headquarters in Adelaide by December 2016.
It will lobby to attract a further five “significant” offices of ASX-listed companies by December next year.
It plans to support the creation of at least 250 new jobs by encouraging interstate companies to grow in South Australia.
At present the state’s biggest company Santos is the only ASX-50 company that has headquarters in Adelaide, located on Flinders Street in the CBD.
Mr Smith said the group will use South Australia’s strengths such as better lifestyles, cost of living, education — particularly the calibre of new graduates — and health to convince executives to move operations.
While it will not involve any government help, it is understood ministers support the bid.
Mr Smith said the group believed improving the state’s links with Australia and international destinations, such as scrapping the current airport curfew, which bans planes arriving or leaving between 11pm and 6am, will boost its chances of success.
“This idea that we should be the cheap place to operate and do business is nonsense,” he said. “Nobody wants to go cheap. People want to go quality.
“So in attracting the best in business you have to exhibit what is the best about Adelaide.
“We offer an extraordinary quality of life. It is not rocket science. None of this is rocket science.”
He added: “Where we need to step up is, I think, in areas of ‘connectivity’.”
Mr Smith, a former Liberal Party adviser, urged a move away from the current culture in Adelaide, in which businesses “seek the government’s approval to do anything”.
He also said the collective view of the business community needed to move away from becoming a city with only small and medium-sized enterprises.
Major companies such as Coopers, Maggie Bears, Penfolds and Beach Energy were examples of success stories that were not “celebrated” enough.
“What worries a number of us is this acceptance by some that we are an SME city,” he said.
“No city survives on SMEs. If you become reliant on SMEs, you go from a city to becoming a town.
“We can have these insular conversations but it is about taking what it is we do and what we offer nationally and internationally and that can only be done by people who have [those] networks.”
The committee has more than 50 members across different sectors and businesses while its 13-member board represent a who’s who of Adelaide’s leaders.
COMMITTEE FOR ADELAIDE BOARD
Colin Goodall: (Chair) company director
Chris Sharpley: Ernst & Young managing partner South Australia
Neil Sachse: founder of Neil Sachse Foundation
Demitra Ritossa: Santos Corporate Services legal team
David Paterson: World Vision chief innovation officer,
Aaron Morrison: Skycity Casino business development general manager
Josh Fanning: entrepreneur
Amanda Duthie: Adelaide Film Festival, chief executive and former ABC commissioning editor
Mary Patetsos: SA Local Government Grants Commission chairwoman
Ian Smith: Bespoke Approach co-founder
Scott Bryant: Pricewaterhouse Coopers Australian energy and utilities consulting practice head