Armidale - the "capital" of the New England region of northern New South Wales - is undergoing a revival as a regional economic force. Located halfway between Sydney and Brisbane on the New England Highway, Armidale is a cosmopolitan city that is home to the University of New England and many other fine educational institutions. Armidale has been acknowledged as one of only 20 cities in Australia with an abundant, long-term water supply, and its cool mountain climate is regarded as a major environmental asset against a backdrop of climate-change issues.

Armidale differs from most regional centres because it has a long established university, transforming it from a rural town to a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city. Through the University, TAFE, private and public schools the city has become a significant centre of education, creating a wider range of jobs and business opportunities than usually found in the regions. It has a well educated and diverse population who stimulate change and demand a high standard of living.

Armidale's strengths lie in its educational, agricultural, retail and professional services, and it is these industry sectors that provide vital employment for a significant portion of the local labour force. This positions Armidale as a knowledge-based regional service centre with significant economic potential which has achieved a sustainable average annual growth rate of about 1 per cent in each of the past five years.

To fast-track new developments Armidale Dumaresq Council has established a Rapid Response Unit to provide advice and assistance on significant or employment generating development proposals. Council will be happy to discuss a flexible range of economic incentives for industries and projects with a potential for significant growth in the region.

The food and wine tourism sector as well as the fast growing professional business sector is considered of major importance. Armidale has attracted more professionals to the city over the last few years than at any time in its history.
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From Garage to Global Glory in Armidale! Starting as a small florist in Armidale in 1992, Petals has become one of the leading international florist exchange hubs, relaying orders for flowers across the world to over 70 countries through its international websites.

Petals have won many awards, some of which include Small Business of the Year, Best Supply Chain Award, NSW Regional Exporter of the Year and BRW Top 100 Fastest Growing Australian Businesses.

Petals utilises clearing-house technologies, conducts transactions in seven currencies and uses the services of 27,000 florists throughout the world. To better serve the global market, it operates three shifts with a total of 22 employees.

"We're not setting out to be the biggest but we are setting out to be the best," says Chief Executive Scott Williams. "The best to us means fast order processing, simple systems and profitability for our florists and for us. We're convinced that that if we concentrate on being "better", the "bigger" will look after itself,"

"We chose Armidale because of lower business costs but we also found that we had very low employee...

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