Council launches first digital hub in the heart of Ararat

Posted Tuesday 23 November, 08:37am

Ararat will benefit from its first digital hub located within the Ararat Jobs and Technology Precinct, providing a central location for local businesses and entrepreneurs to better connect and collaborate.

On Monday Ararat Rural City Council launched the Ararat Community Hub and Digital Co-Working Space in Laby Street, a dedicated space to support small businesses and start-ups with access to the latest technology and equipment.

The multi-use hub features a modern design from open floor plans to office greenery, furnished with standing desks, 85-inch smart screens and spaces to facilitate premium conferencing, group meetings and workshops. The facilities also include 3D printers, a photographic studio with a camera, backdrop and lighting, and sound-proof podcasting booths.

Chief executive Dr Tim Harrison said the new Digital Hub and Co-Working Space is a way of supporting businesses and start-ups in our community.

“We’re fortunate to be able to deliver a digitally sophisticated space for businesses and professionals to connect, collaborate and innovate,” Dr Harrison said.

“It’s a great outcome for our community resulting from partnerships with the Victorian government, Federation University Australia and Council and co-located within the Ararat Jobs and Technology Precinct.

“In addition, we’ll have a strong research presence including a professor who’ll live and work in our community along with eight PhD students joining the precinct within the next two years, it’s close to Ararat Secondary College – hopefully, we’ll start to grow something pretty special in that space.”

Mayor of Ararat Rural City, Cr Jo Armstrong said the purpose of the hub is to accelerate business and employment growth.   

“It’s vital that we’re providing a physical space where people can get together, share knowledge, access technologies and feel supported,” Cr Armstrong said.

“The hub has the potential to help people cultivate ideas and grow their business from shooting product with the built-in photographic studio, host workshops and meetings, and access better connectivity.

“Council’s Economic Development Team has also relocated to the hub to assist with business support, investment attraction, training, and business development.

“Having access to reliable digital technologies helps communities stay connected and pivot towards working online.”

Co-owner of SubRosa Wine and Ambassador for the co-working space, Ms Nancy Panter said the digital hub would provide a space for people to access resources and tools to support their business.

"I'm very excited to hear that the Ararat co-working space is now open to the public. As a small business owner who lives out of town, a co-working space will help me grow our small business,” she said.

“At the moment I use the library, cafes and my car to run my business while our children attend kindergarten and day-care. I will work from this dedicated co-working space and I'm sure it will lead to increased productivity, growth and sustainability of our business." 

The $92,000 project has been funded by the Victorian Government’s Regional Digital Fund which has enabled Council to activate the Ararat Community Hub and Digital Co-Working Space.

The co-working space is open from 9.00am to 3.00pm Monday to Friday. The community will be able to use the space for free until further notice as part of Ararat Rural City Council’s COVID-19 business support measures. A fee structure will be introduced in 2022.