FUTURE CV: Could Yamba be the next Silicon Valley?
WHO could you be if you had nothing standing in your way?
That was the question Hayley and Mick Talbot were asking themselves before they created their co-working hub, Blanc Space, and now use it as a guiding philosophy at the centre.
"What if you picked up your business and took it to a place like Yamba?" said Ms Talbot.
"You might only give it six months but you could come and immerse yourself in a an environment where you can go for a surf in the morning or take off for a juice at main beach in the afternoon."
As increasing connectivity brought the world closer together and enabled professionals to work from almost anywhere with an internet connection, Ms Talbot said Yamba and the Clarence Valley had a huge advantage in attracting a new demographic.
Trading on the natural assets of Yamba is something the pair is passionate about and they have a vision that could help develop the seaside town in becoming a hotspot for professionals and innovative thinkers to work and live.
"We want a niche of professionals and not just professionals but forward thinkers. We want to lure people here to do great work but there is a community aspect to it," she said.
"There is a big focus on lifestyle here and that's what we can do better here than any of the big city co-working spaces - we get to trade on Yamba in that way."
Attracting professionals to the Clarence Valley was important for demographer Bernard Salt, who said towns need to "cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship", something Yamba was well placed to do.
In the 2016 census, 23 per cent of people in Yamba said they owned their own business, a number higher than Grafton at 13 per cent and the Australian average of 15 per cent and Mr Salt said this was similar across many LGAs with both coastal and inland centres.
"Grafton and Lismore are very similar. Yamba is the equivalent for Grafton as Byron Bay is for Lismore," he said. "It is people who are quite entrepreneurial, determined to make a living in a place where they want to live. How can we cultivate that, nurture that and spread that all over the Clarence?"
Ms Talbot agreed there was something special about the area and there was a "hum" about it that had not always been around, a sign things were about to change.
"Even though we are in a tiny town we are not afraid of big ideas," she said.
"It's the dawn of a new era, the thinking is changing and there are examples in the Valley of it working.
Part of that change would be driven by the completion of the Pacific Highway and Ms Talbot stressed that there was no doubt there would be more people coming to the area but said there was an opportunity to shape the town and learn from others' mistakes.
"There are brilliant minds here in the Valley but have not had a spot to come together and cross pollinate," she said.
"We want to be at the forefront of attracting people that care and are forward thinkers. I genuinely believe there is nothing that you can't do from Yamba and the Clarence.