Australia’s Ambassador to Italy, Dr Greg French, visited Jindabyne on the afternoon of Thursday 12 September, engaging with regional business and community leaders, to investigate and support international partnership opportunities with Italy and beyond.

Dr French works as part of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and he wanted to explore what is currently happening locally, including the Snowy 2.0 project, the growing tourism industry and innovative business startups in Jindabyne, Cooma and surrounds.

At lunch, Dr French was welcomed by the Mayor, Peter Beer, as well as the President of the Jindabyne Chamber-of-Commerce, Bruce Easton and SMIN Co-Founders Duncan Isaksen-Loxton and Thor Slater. They met at Wild Brumby Distillery and talked about growth initiatives and ambitions for the region, including the “Go Jindabyne” strategic planning process and Snowy2.0 impact and opportunities.

In the later sessions, Dr French heard from Perisher, local businesses, Councillors Sue Haslingden and John Castellari, with contributions from Deputy Director Megan Cleary, NSW Government. The participants spoke on a range of issues, with a focus on the potential benefits to the region in having greater access to bi-directional trade, as well as exchange of people with a similar northern-hemisphere region.

Dr French delivered an informative open session at the Jindy Workspace for all to attend. He spoke about DFAT activities in Italy and around the world, supporting Australians abroad, for trade as well as for tourism emergencies. At the strategic level Dr French noted that DFAT is currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement between Australian and the EU, that seeks to minimise barriers for trade and investment. This will benefit our region and companies, small and large, for manufacturing, services, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and more.

The event concluded with individual meetings for innovative regional businesses Click’n’ride and Ecomenities. Dan Zylinsky of Click’n’ride spoke about growth in EU sales for his company’s detachable motorcycle indicators. Claire Hanley, alumna of SMIN’s inaugural entrepreneurship learning program, spoke to the environmental problems with single-use toiletries in the hotel industry. Conservative estimates suggest there are 35kg of waste plastic per hotel room per year, or 225 million bottles per year total from Australian hotels alone, all going to landfill. Claire presented the Ecomenities solution and discussed Italian opportunities with Dr French.

The participants commented on the value they found from the event and they look forward to pursuing greater engagement with Italy and other international locations.

The event was organised and facilitated by Thor Slater of the Snowy Mountains Innovation Network (SMIN) and hosted by Jindy Workspace, the new co-working space in Jindabyne town centre.