We need a new model for enhanced assistance to local precincts to foster place-specific main-streets local precincts’ competition and better-resourced coordination. Combined with turbo-charging Renew Adelaide’s efforts at transforming vacant shop-front and upper level activation.


As a Central Ward trader (Imprints Booksellers) I spent decades activating and delivering value beyond my own business through my local precinct trader group. I rolled up my sleeves and put in above and beyond. This effort saw me elected to City Council in 2000.

Rebuilding the city economy will take both personal energy at an enterprise level, plus collective effort. In an open market, striking the right balance between competition and collaboration is essential. It also requires marketing resources and clever branding coordination.

For 30 years, successive Council administrations have been choking place-based enterprise by fixing at the same level the annual grants to precinct organisations that seek to facilitate collaborative marketing and place management. With the exception of Rundle Mall and the Central Market, which have established place-based authorities and levies, the other precinct groups have been hindered in their efforts. If you can’t afford place coordination, you will never get place progress. Most traders and individual building owners are too busy simply surviving to invest scarce time in logistics and coordination for the greater good.

Across the Central Ward in particular, but equally so for North and South Wards, every vacant shop-front needs to be temporarily activated. Artists and other applied creatives who cannot afford market rentals can help improve local street safety and building security. Renew Adelaide Inc. is a well-established model that must be supported to expand its reach. Equally, it is not a charity. Beyond existing core grants, performance-based grant funding incentives could turbo-charge their existing efforts. Matched funding models that create incentives is a smart market-based approach. It is not a level playing field – and nor should it be.