Congratulations to EDA Scholarship Winners

Economic Development Australia (EDA) is pleased to announce the recipients of its first ever EDA Scholarship Program, which provides the opportunity for applicants to complete the National Education and Training Program and achieve recognition as an Australian Certified Economic Developer (ACEcD).

The National Education and Training Program consists of core and elective modules delivering knowledge, skills and insight, using practical case studies, a global perspective and adaptable tools to help economic developers build a strong and resilient local economy. A second round of the EDA Scholarship Program will be offered in 2022.

This program is Australia’s only accredited Economic Development Education and Training Program to help economic development professionals deliver jobs, growth and economic resilience for their communities. On behalf of the Board of EDA, I congratulate these three remarkable individuals, wish them every success in the EDA program and look forward to seeing them further develop as economic development leaders.


Category: Indigenous Economic Development

Sorita McGrane
Moreton Bay Regional Council

Sorita McGrane is a proud Torres Strait Islander descending from the Western Islands of Mabuiag Island and Biogu Island of the Kala Lagaw Ya and Kalau Kawau Ya language groups respectively. Driven by a passion for business and economic growth, Sorita has combined a career spanning both private sector and government to take up a newly created leadership role within Moreton Bay Regional Council’s Economic Development team to support the growing food and agribusiness sector.

Prior to this current role, Sorita had ten years in senior management at TAFE Queensland and also worked in Economic Development for the Queensland Government on the delivery of Strategic Roadmaps for Beef Processing, Advanced Manufacturing, Defence, Aerospace, Biomedical and Resource Recovery. No stranger to small business, Sorita and her husband have owned successful businesses in money management coaching and training and real estate sales and management. Sorita also invests her time and passion in additional leadership topics inclusive of regional workforce development and Indigenous business development.


Category: Emerging Economic Development

Jennifer Thomas
Moyne Shire

Jennifer is a development economist, with experience developing and implementing strategies that create local employment attract investment and harness business competitiveness. Having lived most of her life in a developing country, she understands the challenges and barriers to economic development and has unique experience in planning and implementing business initiatives specific to developing and regional communities.

She is currently the Economic Development Officer of Moyne Shire Council supporting the implementation of priority initiatives of the Economic Development Strategy and delivering key projects that respond to and support business and economic development opportunities across the Shire. She has previously worked with governments, the private sector and not for profits in Australia and Africa.

She is honoured to be awarded the EDA Scholarship to complete the EDA Economic Development and Training Program and gain professional accreditation as an Australian Certified Economic Developer (ACEcD). Through the EDA network, she hopes to maintain mutual relationships with key stakeholders across governments and industries.


Category: Rural/Remote Economic Development

Chris Gillies
Developing East Arnhem

After 13 years of living in one of Australia’s busiest cities, Chris left the corporate life and a large consulting firm to chase new adventures and challenges with a desire to focus on working in regional Australia and with traditional landowners. Since this transition, Chris has resided in Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem for the past three years, working in economic development for both the Northern Territory Government and now for Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL), an independent not-for-profit economic development company.

Chris has a diverse background and career experience in management, sales, running two small businesses of his own, real estate and coaching some of Australia’s most senior executives and their diverse teams. Joining the DEAL team as the Industry Development Facilitator in early 2020, his role consists of developing diversified industry growth in a region transitioning from a mining town to a sustainable regional hub, which is situated on 100% Aboriginal land. Chris’ focus is across a range of sectors and emerging industries including space, land management, aquaculture, fisheries, agriculture, selective harvest forestry and timber products, bush foods, critical and enabling infrastructure, housing and more.

Utilising his broad career experience across a range of sectors, Chris supports traditional owners in East Arnhem to achieve their economic aspirations for sustainable enterprise and industry development. As part of this dynamic and varied role, Chris also has a passion for improving the quality of the region’s data points, ensuring access to ongoing, reliable, and readily available data.