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27 May 2021

Great Ideas for the Gold Coast 2021

YP Gold Coast has released an updated edition of their ‘Great Ideas for the Gold Coast’ advocacy report to stimulate discussion and debate regarding the long-term success of the City beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report, prepared in collaboration with Civity, a Gold Coast town planning firm, and Griffith University, sets out a series of ideas on how the Coast business community could exponentially thrive and why the City needs to embrace growth and advanced technology.

YP Gold Coast president Mary Grant said the team decided to update their strategic framework, developed back in 2017, to ensure it remained relevant and in-step with the issues facing business owners, residents and professionals on the Coast.

“The Gold Coast is at a turning point in its evolution, providing a rare opportunity to reimagine the future and plan for long-term success beyond the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“Great Ideas for the Gold Coast 2017 report set out five ideas and a number of those were successfully realised over the past few years, such as the public ferry service for the Gold Coast, the expansion of the arts and culture public spaces at HOTA, the implementation of public WI-FI and the ongoing light rail delivery.

“Our refreshed 2021 report is an important call to action. Great cities don’t just happen by chance – residents, businesses and government have a collective role in telling our story and shaping our future.

“We encourage everyone interested in the future growth of the Gold Coast to engage in mature and robust debate again and step forward and be a loud champion for our wonderful city.”

YP Gold Coast vice-president, Civity director and Great Ideas for the Gold Coast panellist Martin Garred said YP Gold Coast and Civity collaborated with some of Griffith University’s brightest students and the Cities Research Institute in a wide-ranging review of the Gold Coast’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which informed the development of the ideas in the report.

“From the Coast’s humble beginnings as a collection of tourism villages, it has grown quickly and must continue to diversify and amplify the great qualities that make the Gold Coast so unique,” he said.

“The Gold Coast culture, environment and our ‘have a go’ attitude is fundamental to ongoing growth and maturity.”

The three refreshed ‘Great Ideas’ for 2021 include building the city’s global profile as a place where small businesses and entrepreneurs flourish and grow, smart and well-planned growth, and investment in manufacturing technologies, transport solutions or transport and leisure opportunities.

Professor of Urban Management and Planning, Griffith University’s Cities Research Institute director and ‘Great Ideas for The Gold Coast’ panellist Paul Burton said bringing as many Gold Coasters into thoughtful conversations about our future was paramount.

“We need to actively create the future we want and not just wait for things to happen to us,” he said.

“That’s why it’s important that everyone has a chance to join in these conversations, and that people who don’t always think their views are valued are actively encouraged and supported to do so.”

Destination Gold Coast CEO and YP Gold Coast panellist Patricia O'Callaghan said ongoing collaboration and innovation would help circumnavigate the initial short-term challenges post-pandemic to support future success.

“The community has been working hard to deliver sustainable plans to future proof the Gold Coast,” she said.

“We are a city of interconnected industries and there is great potential for the Gold Coast to thrive, achievable through public and private enterprise that strengthens our economy, and continued investment in our community.”

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17 March 2021

Meet Becky Morton, Panellist at our 2021 Entrepreneurs Forum

From a young age, Becky had a passion for design but decided to pursue a Law & Business Degree.

After graduation, she secured a job with a high-profile law firm & although her life-long love affair with the ocean brought Peony Swimwear to life.

Peony is now recognised as a global leader in sustainable luxury swimwear, championing sustainability as an eco-pioneer in the swimwear category.

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11 March 2021

Meet Craig Johnston, Panellist at our 2021 Entrepreneurs Forum

Craig’s career to date has seen him gain over 15 years of experience in hospitality, and almost 10 of that spent in the mining and resources sector. Craig comes from humble beginnings, starting his first business at just 10 years old from his family farm, to selling another business at just 14 years old, before working 3 jobs to pay his way through commercial cookery school. Craig went on to work in the Hunter Valley in fine dining, and became IHG Group’s youngest ever head chef at the age of 20, before seeking adventure and change and moving into the mining and resources sector.

Adversity and challenge are the foundations for Craig’s entrepreneurial driving force, and he owes some of his greatest strengths to overcoming these obstacles in the past. Today Craig and his partner Lucy co-direct TCLH, a specialist remote hospitality organisation that employs 80 full time staff, and provides their high end services to major ASX listed mining companies and state government bodies.

The idea for TCLH came from combining Craig’s passion for fine dining and his personal interest in the mining and resources sector, so in 2014 following a redundancy from his FIFO job and a major downturn in the oil & gas industry, Craig decided to make the most of a bad situation, and start a new company to provide high quality, flexible service models that had never been done before. His wife and now business partner Lucy came on board, bringing her finance and business banking background, combining it with her own FIFO experience and knowledge. Since then they have built a business that focuses on the wellbeing of its employees, clients and crews by working hard on driving the de-stigmatisation of mental health issues faced by FIFO workers, promoting inclusive and supportive workplaces, engaging with local remote communities on project, and providing healthy, nutritious meals.

Craig and Lucy have taken business from the start-up it once was, to the formidable multi-million dollar business it is today, that continues to double in size year after year, retaining 100% ownership in the business. The pair have gone on to win multiple industry awards, both as a team and as individuals.

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3 March 2021

Meet Jarrad Bell, Panellist at our 2021 Entrepreneurs Forum

Jarrad Bell has been in hospitality for over 10 years, but likely not the areas you would automatically assume. He hasn't been behind the bar, nor hasn't been running venues; he's been the guy responsible for getting you in the door! He's the guy responsible for making your mouth water at 5pm every day, whilst you're scrolling through Instagram, or making the brand aesthetically pleasing - so cool, that you want all your friends to know you are there, and share on socials.

Jarrad, who is a graphic designer and DJ, started off playing your favourite tunes in bars, clubs around Australia. Over time, he began combining the two, and ended up doing the branding and design for the events and venues. Over the years, he's worked with iconic brands, your favourite festivals and he's probably gotten your bum on a seat at the local restaurants around town.

Late 2019 / early 2020, ideas began building between Jeremy Davidson, Mikey Sebire and Jarrad - who all together are the founders of Mr. Consistent.

In his venue, Jeremy had identified a need for a consistent product, that could easily produce volume, without faltering on quality. Whilst Mikey worked on building the recipe of the amazing product we taste today, Jarrad went about building the branding of Mr. Consistent.

COVID hit the hospitality industry, and a product that had been dreamt up to be in-venue, was no longer relevant to the market at that time.

Instead, they focused on direct to consumer, and built an extremely loyal customer base within a short period of time and bucked the 'norm' when it comes to marketing and branding in the beverage world.

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Samantha Gray, Student - Griffith University 18 November 2020

Finding a way forward after COVID

It has been a year of firsts for many. For YP Gold Coast, 2020 marked the organisation’s first decade of industry impact, and a first all-female panel for the City Leaders Forum.

The atmosphere was abuzz as four inspiring industry leaders covered an array of topics in the ‘Learning to Unlearn’ panel discussion.

Acclaimed Creative Producer, Thea Jeanes-Cochrane, said people across the world had to unlearn, reevaluating what was important during the pandemic.

CEO of Home of the Arts, Criena Gehrke echoed this sentiment and shared how she changed her reaction to the shut down from tears to innovation.

“We had to ask ourselves ‘what is it that we do? So, what is most needed right now?’. We knew there would be a gap from when artists would be eligible for JobKeeper so we wanted to keep them alive… We focused on humanity,” she said.

“We as a business also learnt that our immediate response took time. You develop this idea, then present a business case, then you tease it out and then you overthink it, and six months has passed. But you can be quick in your response and deliver what you believe in.”

As an academic, Dr Sarah Gardiner, Deputy Director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism, studies trends and projections but says COVID-19 has thrown all of that out of the window.

After a question from the audience, Dr Gardiner confirmed the unpredictable nature of the current environment means all we can do now is look towards experience and knowledge to read the market and meet the need.

“To be a market leader you really going to have to be on the edge of the shifts and know the consumers mindset to ask well if that’s the way they’re thinking, what can I offer?” she said.

Local resident Danelle Harth expressed her concern about the lack of visitors visibly evident in areas such as Surfers Paradise, and asked what other industries are growing to help balance the impact of the decline in tourism activity.

MP Angie Bell responded, conceding the Gold Coast is the “hardest hit region in Australia” but said other industries were thriving, including manufacturing and health.  

Ms Bell said the federal government is investing in manufacturing, namely; future manufacturing; vaccine manufacturing; glass manufacturing; and defence manufacturing.

“We need to be pushing the non-traditional key pillars so when tourism does bounce back the other key pillars help the city to grow,” she said.

Griffith University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Professor Mario Pinto, believes that it is a combination of creative arts and science that will produce innovative ideas with a competitive edge.

“Wayne Gretzky, a famous Canadian hockey player used to say ‘you have to know how to skate to where the puck is going to be’ and that is what we have to do and where the education sector can play a role, but not by itself. We have to embrace our partners and work in a collaborative fashion,” he said.  

Also at the event, YP Gold Coast President, Mary Grant, announced a refresh of Great Ideas for the Gold Coast, a YP initiative that produces five ideas for the growth and prosperity of the city.

The initiative has already proven successful with previously proposed ideas coming to fruition – opening the door to a refresh which will be delivered in partnership with Griffith University and Civity.

Written by Samantha Gray, Student - Griffith University.

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Samantha Gray, Student, Griffith University. 10 November 2020

‘Learning to Unlearn’ might be what we need to succeed in the future

"Transformation is often more about Unlearning than Learning" - Richard Rohr

As Covid-19 changed so many aspects of life, it propelled the creative to think 'outside the box'.

Many people thrived by their innovative means whilst many more struggled under the weight of the restrictions. Why such contrary responses? What did one have that the other didn't? 

YP Gold Coast created the City Leaders Forum to connect the professionals driving innovation to the whole of the business community.

Committee President, Mary Gant, said this year’s theme of “Learning to Unlearn – a post-COVID-10 Gold Coast that’s better than before” would showcase and share the positive changes industries made to operate during the pandemic.

“As a committee, we felt it was important to connect our city leaders with the business community, to share their insights into how different business and industries have adapted and changed the way they market and deliver their services,” Ms Grant said.

“This adaption to our current environment has fostered innovation in industry to ‘do things differently’ and in time, I believe this will deliver social benefits to our workforce and [the] wider business community.”

The need is evident as entire workforces were reduced to skeleton structures, or in some cases, completely shut down. Many people had to make career changes or return to previous industries, but how can these transitions be made more efficiently? How can communities of industry professionals change their entire perspective?

Deputy Director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism, Dr Sarah Gardiner believes that this change in perspective will be the key to creative and innovative developments. “We are discovering a different marketplace. The survivors will be the businesses that reorganise new and different resources, restructure their module, and are adaptive to the environment.”

Learning to Unlearn’ and adapting to the new marketplace might just be what we need to succeed in the future.Ground-breaking industry firsts all from our piece of paradise here on the Gold Coast.

See you on Friday 13 November 12pm for this year’s City Leaders Forum at Glasshouse at the Island, Surfers Paradise.


Written by Samantha Gray, Student - Griffith University.

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29 October 2020

Meet Thea Jeanes-Cochrane, Panellist at our 2020 City Leaders Forum

Thea Jeanes-Cochrane is a leading originator in entertainment projects and touring exhibitions that has delivered highly acclaimed events and experiences for globally renowned clients recently including The Rolling Stones, Real Madrid C.F, The AFL, The Commonwealth Games and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Coupled with extensive experience in the sports industry with the likes of IMG, Supercars Australia and S.E.L, Thea has helped generate well in excess of $20 million in ticket revenues across her career.

Her most recent major endeavour was with the AFL, engaged as the Creative Producer of entertainment for the night-time 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final at the Gabba, where the world witnessed the largest, most diverse and inclusive line up of Australian artists featured in both a pre-game and an historic half time show.

A brand and marketing strategist, she has combined business acumen and unbridled enthusiasm to originate, creatively produce and promote a diverse range of ceremony events, global touring exhibitions, theatre shows, and concert spectaculars including most recently the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final at the Gabba, the Gold Coast’s Flag Handover Ceremony at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the 2011 & 2009 Arafura Games Opening Ceremonies.Thea also produced the City of Gold Coast's formal bid events at the CGGA in St Kitts, which secured the 2018 Commonwealth Games for the Gold Coast.

Along with being a Board Member of Motorsport Australia and HOTA (Home of the Arts, City of Gold Coast), Thea is a passionate environmentalist and gender equity advocate, having been the recipient of an International Women’s Day Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.

To book tickets to the 2020 City Leaders Forum, click here.

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29 October 2020

Meet Criena Gehrke, Panellist at our 2020 City Leaders Forum

She has a diverse and eclectic background in arts management and a particular passion for the role of arts and culture in building strong and connected communities. She’s worked with all tiers of government on the development and implementation of cultural policy.

Under her leadership as the Executive Director of Arts Access Victoria, one of Australia’s leading cultural development organisations, she developed a range of key initiatives. These included Australia’s only disability film festival, The Other Film Festival, and an Industry and Audience Development Program that worked in partnership with the arts sector to increase access for disadvantaged communities.

She has been a peer assessor for Creative Victoria and The Australia Council for the Arts and is a member of the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research Advisory Group. Criena is also a past recipient of the prestigious Harvard Business Club Victoria Non-Profit Fellowship.

Before taking up the reins at HOTA, Home of the Arts she was Executive Coordinator of City of Gold Coast’s Arts and Culture Unit where she was instrumental in the development of the City of Gold Coast’s Culture Strategy 2023. The Cultural Strategy had at its heart a central cultural precinct for the city’s thriving cultural and artistic activity. She’s now bringing this vision to life as CEO of HOTA, Home of the Arts, a vibrant arts precinct and a real home to the arts and artists on the Gold Coast.

To book tickets to the 2020 City Leaders Forum, click here.

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29 October 2020

Meet Dr Sarah Gardiner

Sarah Gardiner has a PhD in Marketing and is the Deputy Director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism. She has worked in the private and public sectors of the Australian tourism industry. Her research is published in leading tourism academic journals and she has written several book chapters on the topics of travel consumer behaviour, experience design and innovation.

She regularly delivers presentations, consultancies and training for government and industry in these areas.

She is especially interested in youth tourism and future tourism travel trends.

To book tickets to the 2020 City Leaders Forum, click here.

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29 October 2020

Meet Angie Bell MP, panellist at our 2020 City Leaders Forum

Prior to entering Parliament, Angie worked across Australia in every State and Territory as a retail consultant and business development specialist. She is an author in the area of rebranding and marketing. As a former professional saxophonist for over 30 years, she has performed throughout the Americas and the Asia Pacific region.

Angie served as President of LNP Women in Queensland and is passionate about the Liberal National Party values of reward for effort, freedom of association and the family as the building block of society.

She is a fierce advocate for the people of Moncrieff and is focused on working with local stakeholders to support the beating heart of the Gold Coast during these challenging times. As your member for the central Gold Coast, she continues her work to support the engine room that is small business, tourism and education and for those in our community who may need extra support.

In May 2020, Ms Bell convened the City Heart Taskforce to bring Gold Coast industry bodies together to work with the federal government to re-engineer the path forward to create the jobs of the future. In August 2020, she chaired the ‘Gold Coast Reimagine’ jobs, skills and industry forum at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (a COVIDSafe event) that saw peak bodies, politicians and industry work together for all Gold Coasters.

To book tickets to the 2020 City Leaders Forum, click here.


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