United in Diversity

Welcome to the 2021

Mid West Economic Summit

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With rapid growth and many new opportunities on the horizon, it is an exciting time to be doing business in the Mid West.

The Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry is proud to host the tenth Mid West Economic Summit.

This year’s theme ‘united in diversity’ will see a host of high-profile speakers address current issues and examine the economic outlook and the industries that drive the Mid West region.

With many current projects increasing in scope and with new developments planned for the region, the Mid West Economic Summit will bring the business community together to discuss real issues and explore opportunities

The Summit will feature speakers from industries ranging from renewable energy, resources, manufacture, infrastructure, education, agriculture, aquaculture and tourism.

Attendees will have the opportunity to join panel discussions and take advantage of vital networking opportunities with key players from the region’s business community, government agencies and industry representatives.

The Mid West Economic Summit program of events includes a Taste of the Midwest Dinner on February 17, this unique dining experience will showcase the best produce the region has to offer. The Summit will take place on Thursday 18 February at the Queens Park Theatre, to be followed by a Business After Hours Event.

Early bird, bulk package and member discounts available. Click on the Buy Tickets tab for more information

Bringing business voices together
to create opportunity

The Program

Port Tour

February 17
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Join us for a delicious lunch at Barnacles on the Wharf, followed by a tour of the Mid West Ports Authority.

The bus tour is free however you will need to cover the cost of your lunch.

There is a selection of meals you can pre-order and enjoy overlooking Geraldton’s Fisherman’s Wharf.



February 17
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Our best food minds from Skeetas Restaurant, Dalgleish Catering, Tarts & Co and Central Regional TAFE have joined forces to create a Taste of the Mid West. This unique dining experience, under the beautiful lights of Geraldton’s iconic St Francis Xavier Cathedral, will showcase the best produce the region has to offer.

Your ticket includes 9 tastes prepared by the region’s best chefs, beer from Kalbarri’s Finlay’s Micro Brewery, wine and soft drink.  As well as one complimentary cocktail featuring Illegal Tender Rum Co and Finlay’s ginger beer.

The summit

February 18
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Join our community, business and government leaders as they discuss current issues affecting the region, the economic outlook and the industries that drive the Mid West region. 

The event will feature speakers from the resources, renewable energy, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, technology and education sectors, as well as panel discussions and networking opportunities.

If you require a group booking (4 or more) or if you wish to pay via invoice please contact the MWCCI office on (08) 9964 6767.


Business After Hours

February 18 
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After a day of rigorous discussion wind down with a drink and some nibbles at this special MWCCI Business After Hours event at the Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Hosted by the Mid West Ports Authority and Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-op this event provides the perfect networking opportunity and the chance to to continue discussions and build relationships.






The Speakers

Kitty Prodonovich
(summmit MC)

Kitty Prodonovich is the CEO of the Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry of WA, a position she has held since 2012.

Kitty has previously held the positions of Presidents of both the RCCIWA (2005 – 2010) and the Kalgoorlie-Boulder CCI (2003-2005) and has owned two small businesses in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the first one at the age of 21.  Kitty’s involvement with a regional Chamber of Commerce began in 1991, and she is a strong and driven advocate for regional business communities.

Until November 2018 Kitty was the Chair of the board of the Small Business Development Corporation and currently sits on the General Council of CCIWA and is a Non – Executive Director on the board of Keystart Home Loans.

Mayor Shane Van Styn

Mayor Shane Van Styn was elected as Mayor of the City of Greater of Geraldton in 2015, after serving his city as a Councillor for more than four years.

In early 2016, Mayor Van Styn was appointed as Chair of Regional Capitals Australia, Deputy Chair of the Western Australia Regional Capitals Alliance and to the board of Western Australia’s Mid-West Development Commission. 

Mayor Van Styn is a qualified CPA who has owned, managed and supported a range of small and medium businesses in the hospitality, construction, property services and security industries across many regions in WA. This exposure has provided Shane with an intimate understanding of the transition that is occurring in regional economies and the many opportunities regional businesses are now positioned to embrace.

Stuart Nicholls

Stuart Nicholls is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Strike Energy.

Mr Nicholls has led the transformation of Strike Energy from its exploration roots into one of Australia’s major emerging domestic gas producers. Mr Nicholls has a broad ranging background across the energy landscape that included time in the up and downstreams at Royal Dutch Shell. His experience includes time within Finance, Commercial, Joint Ventures, Economics, Global Strategy and Exploration; primarily from within Royal Dutch Shell’s gas businesses. He has a key focus on the transition of our energy system and his previous experience also includes six years with the Australian Army in senior leadership positions.

He has worked in Australia, The Netherlands, Myanmar and Malaysia in both a corporate and operational capacity and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Accounting) from UWA.

Mr Nicholls joined Strike as Chief Executive Officer on 10 April 2017 and was appointed to the Board as Managing Director on 18 August 2017.

Tim Glenister

Tim Glenister is Chair of the Mid West Development Commission

Tim has an extensive history serving Main Roads, throughout regional Western Australia.

His early career as Regional Manager took him to the Wheatbelt, before venturing to the Pilbara and then finally choosing to settle in the Mid West.

Tim was the most senior representative in the Mid West region for Main Roads WA for more than 10 years and he has first-hand knowledge of projects in the Mid West dating back to the early 1980s, working on the Oakajee Infrastructure Planning, the Geraldton Southern Transport Corridor, and Geraldton North-South Highway Planning projects.

Tim’s strong background in infrastructure planning and delivery will be invaluable in bringing the Oakajee Strategic Industrial Area to the fore.

Tim commenced his tenure as Mid West Development Commission Chair in 2020 and is a passionate advocate for the development of regional infrastructure, tourism and the local economy. 


Peter Fraser is the Managing Director of Dwyer Durack, along standing, independent Western Australian law firm.

Peter has a well established reputation as being one of West Australia’s leading lawyers in liquor licensing and criminal law having significant experience in those areas over the course of his more than 20 years in practice.  

Dwyer Durack are proud and long standing sponsors of the Australian Hotels Association and as a result Peter has a strong understanding of the factors that drive the tourism and hospitality industries.  Peter recently played a crucial role acting for various Midwest licensees affected by the section 64 packaged liquor restrictions.

A member of the Criminal Law Association, Peter regularly appears as defence counsel before the Magistrates, District and Supreme Court in a wide range of criminal matters.

In September 2020, Dwyer Durack expanded its legal services with a successful regional launch in Geraldton.  Dwyer Durack offers its full suite of legal services to the Midwest which covers wills and estate planning, succession, personal injury, employment, criminal and liquor licensing.

Matt RutteR

Matt Rutter is the CEO for the world’s largest rock lobster exporter, Geraldton Fishermen’s Cooperative and is also an active non-executive director in the not for profit sector, including Chair of Tourism Geraldton Midwest.

Matt has over 20 years experience trading and marketing food and food commodities to the world.  Prior to becoming CEO, Matt was General Manager of Marketing responsible for overseeing all sales and business development activities, including the establishment of GFC’s China operations.

Before joining the lobster industry, Matt held a number of senior positions with Australian export firms, notably as Head of Trading at Australia’s largest grain trader, CBH and General Manager of Trading for US based food commodity trading firm, Gavilon.  Matt has built a reputation for developing new markets for food products in nearly every continent of the globe.

Matt holds an honours degree in agribusiness marketing, a graduate diploma in applied finance and investment and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  

Dr Rochelle Macdonald

Dr Rochelle Macdonald is an accomplished strategy and development executive with extensive experience in the resources, energy and transport industries.

Rochelle was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Mid West Ports Authority in 2018, having previously led the strategic planning and organisational change of some of Australia’s leading Ports.

Rochelle is the former Director of Strategy and Development at Dampier Port Authority where she was responsible for assembling and directing a professional team focused on the development of Port of Dampier, Port of Ashburton, Port of Anketell and Port of Cape Preston East, and success of infrastructure projects, including Wheatstone and Pluto.

As the fourth female Port CEO in Australian history, Rochelle is also a strong advocate for gender equality in the workplace.

Rochelle holds several academic achievements, having completed her PhD in acid sulphate soils, Masters in Engineering Management, Bachelor of Science with honours and the AICD Company Director’s Course.

She is also internationally educated after completing an accelerated leadership development course at Harvard Business School.

Rochelle now plans to use her knowledge and acquired skills to lead MWPA in becoming bold supply chain enablers for the sustainable long-term future of regional Australia.

rod Littlejohn

After working abroad for many years in the Oil & Gas Industry. When Rod returned to WA, he identified an opportunity to deliver electricity to regionally based customers that were traditionally underserviced.

Rod leads Clear Energy, a new competitor in the West Australian electricity retailing sector.

Clear Energy blends innovative technology with a proactive approach to encourage governments, industry, and local communities to work collaboratively to deliver affordable, reliable, and secure energy supply, in an environmentally sustainable model.

Partnering with Geraldton Community Energy, Clear Energy provides all customers with a choice of electricity supplier that has been missing in the marketplace, particularly in regional WA communities.

Nick Vanderwoude

Nick Vanderwoude is Qantas Airways Regional Manager for Western Australia and South Australia.

As the Regional Manager in the state of Western Australia, Nick overseas and maintains key local relationships across Business, Government, Tourism and Regional markets on behalf of Qantas Airways. The role is critical in providing local focus and advocacy in achieving significant and broad commercial objectives.

Nick joined Qantas in 2008 and held a number of national commercial roles prior to relocating to Western Australia in 2019 to take on the current position.

He has over 20 years global experience in the tourism and hospitality sector with organisations such as Singapore Airlines, Langham Hotels and Cunard.

Vincent Algar

Mr Vincent Algar is a geologist by profession with over 27 years experience in the mining industry, spanning underground and open cut mining operations, greenfields exploration, project development and mining services in both Western Australia and Southern Africa.

Since 2015 Mr Algar has been Managing Director of Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX: AVL) and is responsible for advancing the company’s high-grade Australian Vanadium Project in Western Australia with its minesite south of Meekatharra and processing plant location between Mullewa and Geraldton. 

Mr Algar was instrumental in the launch of AVL’s subsidiary VSUN Energy with its focus on developing the vanadium redox flow battery market for energy storage.

Mr Algar represents both AVL and VSUN Energy to the mining, financial and energy markets within Australia and has a strong understanding of the technical and financial aspects of the markets

russell james

Russell James is General Manager Business Development West at ATCO.

Russell is experienced in the delivery of small to large scale energy and utility infrastructure projects as well as managing a large portfolio of projects to the value of around $100m per annum.

Russell has extensive knowledge of gas and energy markets, pricing, regulations and experience providing innovative and new technology solutions including the integration of renewable energy, gas and hydrogen projects.

Lena Constantine

Lena Constantine is the State Manager of the Apprenticeship Support Australia (ASA) at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI).

Her team provides employers with advice, information and support to build local skills through apprenticeships and traineeships. With field staff located across regional WA from Kununurra to Esperance, ASA is WA largest Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider, and has a keen focus on ensuring regional businesses have access to personalised support to train apprentices and trainees.

Her team assists employers to recruit, sign-up and mentor apprentices and trainees in all industry sectors, and administers a raft of federal government incentives.

Prior to overseeing ASA operations, Lena held industry policy roles at CCI and within Federal Government

Natalie Nelmes

Natalie Nelmes became the Director of Geraldton Universities Centre in 2015 after serving for five years as the Centre’s Special Projects Manager, working at the coal face of creating this innovative model for supported university education in the Mid West region of WA. 

With a Masters in Management and an Arts degree, and working for 15 years in the marketing and PR industries prior to GUC, Natalie works with the firm belief that communication and collaboration can open doors to new ways of thinking and finding solutions to community issues.  It’s exactly the approach GUC adopted in establishing the first not for profit universities centre in Australia.

Trevor Lake

Trevor Lake is a Director of RSM in Geraldton. He joined RSM in Geraldton as a client manager in 2006 and became a partner in January 2014.

Trevor commenced his career with PriceWaterhouse Coopers in South Africa in 1995 working in their Assurance & Advisory division. He was promoted to the position of audit manager in 1998, before deciding to embark on a career change with Saambou Bank as a financial manager in their housing finance division. Trevor set up his division’s financial department, hiring 13 personnel to fulfil the accounting, cost accounting management, risk management and financial administration roles required.

Trevor is active on boards within the local community,  currently serving as the president of the Geraldton Club.

Courtney Ackland

Courtney Ackland is the Operations Manager for Iluka Resources Narngulu Operations, which includes the Narngulu Mineral Separation Plant near Geraldton, one of the largest mineral separation facilities globally.   

Having grown up on his family sheep and wheat farm in Badgingarra, Courtney completed his secondary schooling, tertiary and post graduate studies in Perth. For the first part of his career Courtney worked in the allied health and medical fields, initially as an Injury Management Consultant and then as a Cardiac Sonographer with one of Perth’s leading private specialist cardiovascular practices.

Being a mid-west country boy at heart, Courtney took a break from the city and his cardiology profession in 2007 and commenced a new career in the mining industry. From the Pilbara to Geraldton, over the past 14 years he has worked for Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Iluka Resources in a number of senior leadership roles within production, health and safety and processing.  In 2016 he commenced his current role as Narngulu Operations Manager and is responsible for all aspects of operations, logistics, supply chain management and strategic planning. From early 2020, this has also included overseeing the successful integration of a new processing facility at Eneabba, which includes the extraction, processing and sale of a monazite-rich tailings stockpile, providing additional business diversification into rare earth elements.

Ted Ishizuka

Ted Ishizuka joined Mitsui E&P Australia Pty Ltd (MEPAU) as Director and Chief Administrative Officer in 2018, and led the successful integration of MEPAU with AWE Limited. 

During this time, his portfolio has covered a range of functions including: HSE, Legal, External Affairs, Human Resources, IT and Corporate Development.

Prior to moving to Perth, Ted was based in the US and held various executive roles with Mitsui in Energy Marketing and LNG Investment.

In his spare time, Ted and his family have enjoyed exploring regional Western Australia together, especially visiting the dolphins at Monkey Mia


Rod O’Bree is owner and managing director of the highly successful local and independent Food wholesale business Western Independent Foods; delivering food and freight throughout the Mid West and the Gascoyne since 1997.

Following the states worse drought in decades in 2008 Rod purchased 810 hectares called Yanget Farm and began applying alternate philosophies to landscape management. Years of improving soil quality and waterflows have yielded excellent results in rehydration. Ongoing improved productivity on Yanget has resulted in the uptake of running TAFE course Certificate II in Agriculture encompassing soil improvement and managing waterflow. Rod is now consulting on land rehydration works including the WA state funded chapman catchment project.

Rod has also purchased a local retail butcher shop utilising supply from Yanget stock and building capacity for other regenerative growers looking to meet consumer demands for ethically grown product.

Jay Cox

Jay Cox is owner/operator of the Eco Abrolhos. Jay runs the business with his wife Sonia Cox and their children, Maddy and Bronson. The family lived on the Abrolhos Islands off the coast of Geraldton for 30 years operating a Crayfishing business until they decided to switch gears into the tourism business in 2003.

The Cox family lived on Little Rat Island four months each year during the Abrolhos Crayfishing season with both kids attending school on the island and spending their spare time fishing, snorkelling and exploring all the surrounding islands. Living and working from the Abrolhos has given the family a huge appreciation for the Islands and instilled a desire to share the intriguing history and pristine scenery with other keen explorers.

This passion for the area helped Jay and Sonia take their business in a different direction and move into the tourism industry in 2003. They initially turned their crayfishing vessel into a charter boat but quickly outgrew it as they had an overwhelming response to their tours with them struggling to keep up with the enquiries and bookings!

A few boats later and after many lessons learnt, they purchased the current vessel that comfortably sleeps 32 passengers. Jay and Sonia are still very involved in running the business with the help of their son Bronson who now skippers the boat and their daughter Maddison helping out with Marketing.

Duncan Gray

Duncan Gray is the General Manager of the Geraldton Zone at the CBH Group. CBH is one of Australia’s largest agribusinesses, receiving and exporting more than 90 per cent of the Western Australian grain crop.

Raised in Koorda, in the central wheatbelt, Duncan’s childhood dream was to become like his father and take charge of the family farm.

Duncan’s love of agriculture led him to join CBH in 1998 after graduating from Cunderdin Agricultural College.  He took a job as a casual receival point operator in Gabbin.

After 12 years as an RPO, Duncan was promoted to a supervisor role in 2000 and then district manager in Wongan Hills in 2003.

Duncan was appointed CBH’s Geraldton Zone General Manager in April 2006 in which he oversees all CBH site and export operations in the Geraldton region including the port, Geraldton Grain Terminal.

Carol Martin

Carol Martin is a Yamatji and Noongarr woman from Geraldton. Carol is a former Australian politician who served as a Labour Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia between 2001 and 2013, representing the seat of Kimberley. She was the first Aboriginal women to be elected to any Australian parliament

Carol is currently a board member and chairperson of Yamatji Southern Aboriginal Corporation, as well as being a shareholder and or director of number of businesses.

Carol completed a Business Management course in spite of not having completed formal schooling and then worked as a social worker and counsellor in the Kimberley. Amongst other things, Carol worked alongside others to help return Aboriginal children who were missing in the system to their families, and help Aboriginal families deal with the consequences of the Stolen Generation.

Carol won a scholarship to study a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at Curtain University becoming the first in her family to graduate from university.

Carol is also an accomplished painter and artist, her work has been exhibited by Curtin University and still resides in the Centre for Aboriginal Studies. Carol has assisted with the creation of the Australian Indigenous Art and Culture Development Fund, which attempts to right a past wrong where traditional Aboriginal artists were not given royalty payments for the use of their work, and has been a strong supporter of the Indigenous Stock Exchange (ISX) which was founded in May 2003.

Her interests include fishing, camping, reading and spending time with her large extended family.

Fred Taylor

Fred Taylor is a Yamatji man from Geraldton. Fred has extensive experience as a public officer in Aboriginal and Government agencies.

Fred is currently a board member of Yamatji Southern Aboriginal Corporation and a director and CEO of Black Stump Resources, an Indigenous owned mining, building, civil and construction company.

Fred has worked as the regional manager and Aboriginal liaison officer for the Yamatji Land and Sea Council and has also worked for the Midwest, Gascoyne & Murchison Areas Native Title Working Group.

Fred was a founding member of Yamatji Mining and Civil, a mining and civil construction company based in Geraldton, providing earthmoving, civil and contract mining services to the resources and construction sectors in the Midwest, with a focus on providing Aboriginal labour to projects. YMC was dedicated to the employment, training and total integration of Aboriginal people in its internal operations and was the leading Aboriginal contracting company in the Midwest.

Fred was CEO of Jigalong Community between 2006-2010. During this time he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of social well-being and development for the community. Previously Fred was Projects Manager for Yamatji ECMJ.

Shirley McPherson

Shirley McPherson is a Yamatji and Nyoongar woman from the Perth and Murchison regions of Western Australia. She has experience in program delivery and business development at the regional, national and international levels of government.

Shirley is a Chartered Accountant and has held senior positions in the private, government and university sectors.

Shirley is currently a board member of Yamatji Southern Aboriginal Corporation, Indigenous Business Australia, WA Biodiversity Science Institution and WA Marine Science Institution. In addition Shirley is a business coach at Wirra Hub, the WA Indigenous Business and Employment Hub.

Shirley has been a consultant to the mining industry in negotiating land use agreements in Western Australia and held roles as Group Manager of Indigenous Strategy and Business with Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd and National Business Development and Engagement Manager for AFL SportsReady. She was member of the Australian Government delegation to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Her previous board appointments included Chair of Ngarda Civil and Mining Pty Ltd (2011–13) and the Indigenous Land Corporation (2001–11), and board member of McArthur River Mining Community Benefits Trust (2009–14).

Doug Thomson

As Western Power’s Transmission Grid Strategy Manager, Doug and his team are responsible for developing long term strategies for the South West Interconnected Network in a period of rapid transformational change in the energy sector.

Under his leadership, his team identifies future blueprints for the network in determining the most efficient and effective solutions to meet the current and future changing energy demands of the community.

Doug previously worked for several United Kingdom utilities undertaking large transmission connection projects prior to moving to Australia in 2007.

He is a regular visitor to the Mid-West region and was actively involved with the development of the 330kV MWEP line to Three Springs and other significant network and connection projects in WA during the last 10 years.

Doug is an active member in Engineers Australia and in his spare time enjoys travelling and exploring WA.

Western Power is a Western Australian State Government owned corporation responsible for building, maintaining and operating an electricity network which connects 2.3 million customers to traditional and renewable energy sources, delivering a critical service to the community.

It is at the forefront of the energy industry in leveraging new technologies, including integrating microgrid and battery storage solutions. It’s planning the grid of the future that’s leading the way to a cleaner, brighter and more resilient energy supply for the next generation.

Dave Rafferty

Dave is the Head of Business Development for the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group(AGIG).

In this role Dave is responsible for all new business opportunities for AGIG including the development of the international hydrogen market, gas pipeline, mid-stream processing as well as M&A activities.

He has over 15 years of experience in oil and gas dealing with upstream joint ventures, domestic and international marketing and trading of commodities such as natural gas, oil and sulphuric acid for companies including Santos and BHP. Dave has held roles as a Producer Representative on the Gas Advisory Board and at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy as well as APPEA.

More guest speakers coming soon. 

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