Education and engagement: How ICN NSW boosts work opportunities for Northern NSW suppliers

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ICN NSW collaborated with Lendlease to help local businesses in Northern NSW get involved with the region’s Tweed Valley Hospital Project.

No matter where it is based, an infrastructure or construction project can benefit from working with suppliers who live nearby and know the area.

ICN NSW’s purpose is to bring major project suppliers and smaller contractors together, and to help with the procurement process. A recent public hospital project in Northern NSW showcases how we achieved this.

The project: Tweed Valley Hospital

The new Tweed Valley Hospital is set to deliver a state-of-the-art facility with 430 beds, 12 operating theatres and outpatient services.

Part of a $723.3 million investment by the NSW Government in the Tweed-Byron region, the new hospital will include:

  • an expanded emergency department
  • enhanced medical, surgical and mental health services
  • enhanced ambulatory care services including more outpatient clinics
  • new interventional cardiology service
  • new radiotherapy service as part of a new integrated cancer care service.

Once the contract for the project was awarded to tier one providers, ICN NSW Regional Manager Dusko Bajic was invited to help local tradespeople and suppliers to step up and register their interest in getting involved as subcontractors and suppliers.

“We realised there weren’t a lot of local companies registered with ICN NSW in the area, which meant many local providers weren’t even aware that work packages were on offer,” says Dusko.

“In collaboration with the major contractor Lendlease, we took steps to educate locally-based operators about the opportunities that were open to them.”

Engaging with local providers

Working in conjunction with Lendlease, ICN NSW helped to prepare and implement a Local Industry Development Plan.

As part of this, a half-day industry briefing was held for contractors and businesses from towns and shires including Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed.  The industry briefings opened communication between the project and local industry and created connections to interact with the project, including one-to-one capability statement workshops for subcontractors.

The goal of the briefing was to maximise engagement with the local business community to give local suppliers and subcontractors opportunities to join the project through all stages of tendering and construction.

ICN NSW also actively engaged with the local Indigenous community, to ensure that Indigenous companies and companies employing Indigenous people were afforded every opportunity to participate in the project.

“This kind of collaboration gives regional tradespeople, businesses and suppliers the confidence to create a quality capability profile and put their hand up for new opportunities. This serves to create local jobs, progress local talent and boost employment in the area. It also sets regional businesses up to apply for future opportunities in their area,” explains Dusko, “So a series of short industry briefings for a single project can leave a legacy for a more prosperous future.”

Tier 1 companies recognise the value of local subcontractors and the expertise they bring to local large-scale infrastructure projects. While the process to bid for work packages on these large projects may seem daunting at first, support is available (i.e. through ICN) to help navigate the system and give local companies the best chance of getting work on major projects.

In a regional area, relationships are so important. Through an industry briefing, which is open and accessible to all interested suppliers, these relationships can lead to productive and successful work being completed onsite.

Large-scale infrastructure projects may be less common in regional areas, making industry briefings a strong connector between local industry and a major project, demystifying the procurement process, and supporting local companies through the procurement process so that they have the best chance of being awarded work packages. This ultimately results in maximising the benefit to local industry and the community from these large-scale projects.

Connecting local contractors to local jobs

Lendlease partnered with ICN NSW and has worked closely with Dusko since 2019, when it was appointed Early Works Contractor for the Tweed Valley Hospital Project. As a regional project, with a commitment to supporting and working with as many local subcontractors as possible, the company prioritised its relationship with ICN from the very beginning to create partnerships and a portal to ensure potential subcontractors were able to interact and remain informed about project opportunities.

Lendlease has used ICN Gateway to upload work package information, so subcontractors can enter the tender process. Gateway is updated regularly as packages are awarded so potential employees know who the successful subcontractor is and can engage with them for specific employment opportunities within those packages.

All Lendlease subcontractors, over 60 through the project’s life, interacted with the project’s ICN Gateway page during the procurement process. The project has awarded major contracts to local subcontractors, including concrete pump and supply, civil roadworks, high voltage power installation and vegetation management, from the Tweed-Byron LGA.


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