Work starts on revitalising Port Douglas

Port Douglas
Port Douglas has come under the microscope of the highly regarded Melbourne Business School.

Port Douglas is now under the microscope.

Melbourne Business School graduate students have begun their lengthy and detailed consultancy process which aims to deliver an action plan that, if implemented, will deliver an economic resurgence in Port Douglas.

The Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce was offered the services of the Melbourne Business School as part of the student's studies, which would ordinarily carry a fee well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars if sought privately.

"The MBS program (involves) students from Melbourne University. They're 25, 30 years of age and doing their MBA (Master of Business Administration)," Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce committee member, Doug Calvert said.

"This will be the key project that they will be working on and the work that they do will probably determine who employs them. The top firms will look at their work so there are real incentives (to do well).

An initial meeting was held on Friday involving key stakeholders including representative of Chamber, Council, Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree, and small business. 

"We started out by getting people to talk about their vision of the next five years, where they see Port Douglas, where they would like to see Port Douglas in the next five years," Mr Calvert said.

"Everyone agrees we need to do something."

The consultancy process will be overseen by Selwyn D'Souza and Professor John Onto; the latter an occasional resident in Port Douglas.

Mr Calvert said by the first week of February the group will identify around six vital projects, with a team of students working on each who will have assistance from MBS and local mentors.

"They will be engaging with the community, they'll be interviewing, they'll be talking, they'll be seeing it for themselves so it's very much an independent set of eyes."

Mr Calvert admitted that one of the major challenges to the success of the program is ensuring all areas of the community work together during the process, and implement the recommendations of the MBS students.

"As was pointed out today there is a lot of good work that's done by consultants that doesn't get implemented because there isn't the buy in or the desire to get the job done.

"That's not what this one is all about. It's all about making sure there's enough passion. We've got to sign off on everything.

"The problem is there is so much which can be done and it's a question of how they use the resources of 30 highly intellectual, strategic students and consultants to get the right outcome."

Mr Calvert said that the MBS personnel are skilled at dealing with conflicts that may arise during the project.

"These guys are brilliant at trying to get past that stuff. They've handled these situations before.

"Everyone seems to be on board, everyone is receptive. Whether everyone ends up being able to work together will be interesting."

Preliminary feedback from initial work is due at the end of February, while the final report is due in May.
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