Institute defends Sirolli project

BUSINESS success from the state's three Sirolli Institute corporations may still be a long way off, more than a year after the state government gave $950,000 to the project.

The Sirolli Institute, founded by Ernesto Sirolli, was hired to invigorate the struggling forestry communities of George Town, Scottsdale, Smithton and the Huon Valley.

The project has previously been criticised, with allegations the money could have been better spent.

Next month, each corporation will receive $100,000 from the allocated funding, in addition to the $198,000 already received.

Ripples North-East facilitator Victoria Pullen, who was employed by the George Town and Scottsdale corporation for two years, said no tangible business successes could be reported.

The project aims to establish a community business network that pools individual experience and resources to assist, develop and foster existing and new business.

Ms Pullen said she had visited up to 17 businesses in the region, and was working directly with about five.

She said confidentiality prevented her from revealing pipeline projects.

"To me, the benefits are there because we are working with businesses and they are working on improving their business and the community are participating," Ms Pullen said.

Ms Pullen said the biggest challenge was finding the support that individual businesses required.

George Town Chamber of Commerce board member Sue Sherriff, who is a member of Ripples North-East resource team, said a greater community involvement and awareness of Ms Pullen's position was needed.

The Sirolli facilitation project began in Esperance in Western Australia in 1985.

Esperance Shire President Malcolm Heasman said the project did not come up much in conversation, but that the successful Esperance Small Business Centre was formed.

The centre offers support and networking for business, and is still open today.