Economic development through jobs for locals

A frequently asked question we get from people is how AIG works in communities. Our tagline is to build stronger communities, but how do we actually do that? A recent experience sums it up pretty well.

Disadvantages of outsourcing workforce

While visiting a Top End community, the CEO of AIG was asked to help find a white person to work in the takeaway store. The manager of the popular business was looking to find someone from outside the community to work in the shop because they believed a white person would be more reliable.

Steve learned the takeaway store is owned by the local Indigenous group, but there were few Indigenous people working in the store. The store is an important asset to the owners and the manager wanted to make sure it was operating as best it could. The rationale was that by having the store open and operating more reliably, the owners would win because they earned more.

There is logic in that rationale, but it’s not the way AIG views economic development with the goal of creating stronger communities.

Building stronger communities needs development approach

Steve declined to help because of these reasons:

  • Training and experience are a vital part of economic development. Passive income through rent and profits of the store is nice, but it doesn’t target the social and economic benefits of being involved in the local economy through employment.
  • AIG believes 100% of the workforce in community should be filled with Indigenous people from the community. Locals are better connected, personally invested and understand the needs of the community as well as the challenges.
  • Working provides meaning and relevance to a person’s life. These are vital when nurturing and growing the social strength of a community.
  • Local employment means money stays in the community. When a person is employed from outside the community, they take the money outside the community with them. By having people from the community working in the community, the money is spent in the community, contributing to economic growth.

Patience was rewarded

In a pleasant twist to this tale, not long after AIG declined to help outsource the takeaway worker position, a local woman applied for the job and is now working in the takeaway shop.

To learn more about strategic plans for economic development and the ways that AIG is committed to improving the economic outlook for community check out our Annual Report.