The Story of GROW
The GROW Initiative began in 2013 as Geelong Regional Opportunities for Work, a ten-year economic development approach to address place-based disadvantage in the G21 Region (covering the five local government areas of Colac Otway, Golden Plains, Greater Geelong, Queenscliffe and Surf Coast).
The program was spearheaded by the local philanthropic community foundation Give Where You Live, in close partnership with the G21 Geelong Region Alliance, a collective of business, community and local government organisations from across the region.
GROW was developed using a Collective Impact approach, employing backbone staff to convene and facilitate key local stakeholders to join the Initiative, which by May 2019 had over 110 organisations pledging commitment through the G21 GROW Compact.
During the early years of the Initiative, GROW worked with the Victorian Government to become a funding partner of Give Where You Live Foundation; proposing the possibility of a transferrable GROW model able to be developed in other regions. In 2016 the Victorian Government announced the first $1million of matched funds for the G21 GROW Initiative.
In 2018, the Latrobe Valley Authority, established by the Victorian Government to manage the region’s transition in the wake of the Hazelwood power plant closure, committed to establish the GROW Gippsland Initiative. GROW Gippsland was established in part to help ensure that local and social benefits would be maximised from the large Government investment in infrastructure and other projects in the region. In the first 12 months, more than 60 organisations committed to the GROW Gippsland Compact.
In 2018 the Victorian Government also announced “start-up” funding for additional GROW Initiatives to be established in the key regional centres of Greater Shepparton (facilitated by the Committee for Shepparton), Ballarat (facilitated by Highlands LLEN) and Bendigo (facilitated by Be.Bendigo).