Economic stimulation on the local level is increasingly being recognised as the key to regional resilience. As such, regional capacity building initiatives have moved into endogenous development models that build on the local economic context, embedded competencies and social structures.

Illustrating an endogenous regional development initiative, this paper discusses a recent program in regional Victoria based on ‘economic gardening’ principles of infrastructure, information and connections and tailored to the specific needs of small-to-medium enterprises with high growth potential.

The program brought together three tiers of government and the regional university to increase innovative capacity and performance of manufacturers in the region. The paper discusses the program design and reports on its perceived value from various stakeholder perspectives. Taking a wider regional development focus, the paper concludes with a discussion on the evaluation and longer term impact of endogenous capacity building programs of this nature in terms of their contribution to regional development policy and program development.