More than 20 Bendigo businesses have signed up to a program that aims to improve economic outcomes for the city while increasing employment opportunities.
The GROW Bendigo Regional Action plan will launch on Monday night and Be.Bendigo chief executive Dennis Bice hopes more businesses get involved.
"One of the things that is really pleasing is the businesses we have spoken to have come back and said they want to be a part of it and are understanding the importance of driving local business but also addressing disadvantaged (communities)," he said.
"We have already signed 24 (businesses) and we'll be talking to range of other businesses to get their involvement."
The GROW Bendigo plan aims to have businesses work with local suppliers and operators to improve their ability to identify and respond to opportunities for economic benefit; work with regional buyers to strengthen the relationship to local suppliers; and develop approaches that support local employment opportunities.
"The method behind it is if Bendigo businesses can drive more local spending and develop greater outcomes for the economy, it creates opportunity for employment," Mr Bice said.
"We would like (local businesses) to look at a wide range of employment options including (people from) disadvantaged, disabled, Indigenous or youth (communities)."
GROW stands for Growing Regional Opportunities for Work and was founded in Geelong in 2014. It was developed further in 2017 and funded by state government to be established in other parts of Victoria.
"We had our first GROW meeting in November 2018, and ran a meeting with 40 businesses to talk about principles of GROW, how it works and to get their engagement," Mr Bice said.
Be.Bendigo chair Marika McMahon said GROW Bendigo was a chance for Bendigo businesses to drive change.
"(It) presents a significant opportunity for Bendigo business to enhance the local economy and drive transformational change in disadvantaged communities across the region," she said.
"The program operates by having businesses improve what they spend locally, which will then increase local jobs."
Along with increasing business involvement, in the next nine months GROW will work to gather case studies and information to help move its plan forward.
"So the first part is signing the (GROW Bendigo Compact), second is to go back and sit down to see how we can drive outcomes with those business," Mr Bice said.
"(Some) businesses that are already doing some of this stuff. Our role is to benchmark what's happening and take it to the next level."
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