THE Business Centre has a new leader and, soon, new headquarters.
General manager Pierre Malou, who replaced predecessor Narelle McLelland in January, says the Newcastle centre has shelved plans to update its King Street office.
Instead, his 20 staff will move into an open-plan work space above Rethink Financial at Dick Street, Newcastle West.
Mr Malou, who hails from near Bordeaux but has called the Lower Hunter home for almost 20 years, said the move was in line with the centre’s new strategy.
In previous years, he said, the centre had successfully yet heavily relied upon government funding to run its myriad workshops and business programs for small businesses.
“The centre is financially strong but the landscape has changed around us, and the increasing number of start-ups has changed how we must look at small to medium businesses,” he says.
Under Mr Malou’s guidance,with Steve Wait as chief operating officer and Janice Knowles as general manager, the centre has a new, three-tier strategy that focuses on innovation.
The first tier is titled clarity, and involves a client receiving eight hours of business advice; the second tier is about traction, with clients receiving three months of small business workshops pivotal to their success; the third is realisation, with year-long access to face-to-face assistance at the centre.
“We follow the path of a start-up – we want small business to come to us as soon as they have an idea so we can be with them on their journey,” says Mr Malou.
The centre will also be geared to help corporations bring innovation in-house.
Mr Malou said the centre’s new modern premises would focus on the customer experience “just like an Apple store”, with customers receiving advice from a senior business advisor when they first visited the centre.
“It’s not only a trendy space; innovation will be part of all we do,” he said.
The centre has also expanded its offering into the Mid Coast and Central Coast, with offices in Foster and Tuggerah, and is also growing its Registered Training Organisation services.