Meet the new executive director of Illawarra First and the Illawarra Business Chamber

New leader: Adam Zarth is wasting no time making himself known and getting on with the job as Illawarra Business Chamber's new executive director. Pic: Greg Ellis.
New leader: Adam Zarth is wasting no time making himself known and getting on with the job as Illawarra Business Chamber's new executive director. Pic: Greg Ellis.

The next executive director of Illawarra First and the Illawarra Business Chamber has hit the ground running to start 2018 with many plans to engage the region’s business community.

Adam Zarth started n January 15 and will continue to work on developing and leading advocacy on key initiatives and providing support to local business.

Mr Zarth gained an appreciation for the region when he worked as chief-of-staff for John Ajaka for three years and has a high regard for Keira MP Ryan Park and Kiama MP Gareth Ward.

Originally from Victoria he saw what a great lifestyle Wollongong had to offer as a place to live during many Friday visits with Mr Ajaka. He made many contacts during that time and gained a good understaning of community perceptions about decision making in Sydney. He was also impressed with the way all organisations in the disability services sector got together to better advocate for the region.

“I just fell in love with the place. When the opportunity came up I thought something like this only comes up once in a while. You have got a microcosm of what you can get in Sydney. We just loved it. My fiance Jessica Stout and I have moved down.”

They love how quick and easy it is to get to the beach or anywhere and how nothing is too crowded.

In his new role Mr Zarth said there are several things immediately on his radar. He is interested in hearing what business and industry requires to grow and develop. And knows a united voice on what everyone considers are the most important things for the region as really important. Mr Zarth knows better rail and road connections are a high priority for the whole community. He sees the South West Illawarra Rail Link connection to the economic zone of south-west Sydney and the subsequent connection to a second international airport as a chance for the economy to really boom because Port Kembla will be the service port. Further improvements to Picton Rd will also help.

Welcome to Wollongong: Adam Zarth with the view outside his new office. Picture: Greg Ellis

Welcome to Wollongong: Adam Zarth with the view outside his new office. Picture: Greg Ellis

Mr Zarth will be at The Illawarra Connection on Tuesday and is looking forward to the next Business Before Hours and Business After Hours.

A big focus for him will be bringing key people from outside the region (political, corportate and thought leaders in relavent areas) to meet members.

Mr Zarth said he is planning a comprehensive program of Illawarra First gatherings so members can express their views about where they see things going. That will include employers, key decision makers and influencers.

“I am also really looking forward to engaging the broader membership. I am going to catch up with all the local chambers. And I am very interested to touch base with and hearing the views of all the councils in the area.”

Another theme is workforce challenges.

“I really want to help our members understand what the underlying challenges are in the workforce,” he said.

“Certain members say they can’t recruit the highly skilled workers they need. It is going to be difficult for us to flourish as a region without understanding what the reasons for that are and how we can improve it. Of course a lot of it relates to transport links. But what are the other reasons.”

One of the questions he wants to ask is what are the underlying reasons behind high levels of youth unemployment in some parts of the Illawarra and how do we get those people into employment?

“Illawarra Yes is a program that is a great start in collaboration with the NSW Govenment,” he said..

“That is where we put young job seekers directly in contact with businesses who need a young workforce. I am really looking forward to continuing to understand that space and to drive some change”.

.