Shine Harcourt Leanganook

Economic stimulus strategies emerging from true local & strategic


Client: Mount Alexander Shire Council 

Location: Harcourt VIC

In response to economic changes and emerging business opportunities Mount Alexander Shire Council saw a need for strategic thinking around ways to stimulate the economy, plot out the best economic future and build on the existing ideas and assets of the community. 

There were a number of project drivers including:

  • The large-scale strategic planning process; Plan Harcourt 
  • The lack of a town centre, fragmented growth around the closed railway line and old highway bypass 
  • Rapid urban growth and new residential developments
  • Increased visitation from the successful La Larr Ba Gauwa Park not being translated into overnight stays or to spend in the town 
  • Incomplete tourism offer meant that Harcourt’s assets were being co-opted into a Castlemaine or Bendigo visitor experience 
  • Lots of active local community groups, but with duplication around activities and objectives
  • Active and effective local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations including Nalderun and Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Corporation with an interest in and capacity for joint ventures and collaboration with non-Aboriginal organisations 
  • No clear strategy of how to make use of its apple growing fame, and how to tell that story alongside other growing industries 

Instead of working with an economist to carry out the usual desktop process Council decided that it would be better to take a strongly collaborative and community-led approach. The Shine Harcourt Leanganook process ensured that the economic strategies were built on sound local knowledge, on a clear understanding of what would stack up and responded to the values, ideas and characteristics that make Harcourt truly Harcourt. This started with establishing the Shine Harcourt Partnership.





This partnership approved the project branding, methodology and objectives and kick-started the project in collaboration with Council. Guiding and championing the project throughout. The partnership includes representatives from key local organisations including growers, Landcare, the Harcourt Progress Association, local business operators and consultants, Harcourt Cooperative Cool Stores, state government and Council. 

Hello City has facilitated the process and provided strategic frameworks and direction to strengthen the creative thinking of the community and pull together an overarching strategic economic vision that reflects the energy, ideas, opinions and practical wisdom of the people of Harcourt. 

The process we have used is very different to traditional strategy development techniques. We sought to engage in a more creative way and collaborate with people who would never show up to a public meeting or complete a dry, if worthy, survey. We wanted to hear the thoughts, ideas and aspirations of people from all walks of life – from grassroots community to senior government officers, from emerging artists to big landowners and everyone in between. Then we wanted them to think through their ideas and tell us what was really possible so that the process would result in a real way forward rather than a wishlist of undeliverable or unsupported ideas.