Small business urges greater focus on innovative practices
Small businesses in the Wide Bay region have called for less focus on start-ups and entrepreneurs, with greater attention on making existing businesses more innovative.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has urged State and Local Government leaders to provide more support for small businesses.
CCIQ’s Wide Bay Regional Policy Council, which met in Hervey Bay this week, said now was the time to unlock opportunities in the region and share its vision.
The council, which appointed Yale Morgan (Bundaberg Chamber President) and Sandra Holebrook (Hervey Bay Chamber President) as co-chairs, discussed issues impacting on small and medium businesses throughout the Wide Bay region.
Mr Morgan said it was vital to generate economic activity.
“We are a region driven by the success and innovation of our local small businesses and private enterprise more broadly,” he said.
“But we are finding more and more that people are nervous to move, work and stay in the region due to a variety of reasons.”
Mr Morgan said the quarterly meeting of business leaders enabled key stakeholders to closely examine issues impacting on SMEs and how best to make progress.
Many business owners expressed concern about a big focus on innovation and the start-up culture – which drew attention away from a need to focus on assisting existing businesses and make them more innovative in their practices.
“Initiatives such as Advance Queensland are good in theory, but we have seen a very small take up throughout the Wide Bay due to the conditions placed on receiving funds from the pool, with small business operators simply opting out of engaging with the program,” he said.
“Our opportunities as a region are endless. The whole of the Wide Bay, from a business perspective, needs to start positioning itself as a united region with a key set of strengths in order to get the region moving.
“Local councils, along with business leaders, should play a strong role to drive this into the future to generate new business, skills and people attraction and retention.
“Our Regional Policy Council sees itself as working with local councils to overcome some of the challenges of today.
“As small business is the lifeblood of these communities, we will continue to provide a voice to local businesses to work towards unlocking tomorrow's opportunities over the coming 12 months.”
Ms Holebrook said this included how to promote the skills expansion and attraction and how Wide Bay needed to be more collaborative in order to present a united front to government.
She said businesses recognised there was an opportunity to promote economic activity, but the priority was how to better coordinate to steer businesses through the economic transition facing Queensland.
“As the pre-eminent business group in the Wide Bay, we are calling for optimism and cohesiveness across all levels of government to deliver new opportunities, such as how to take advantage of the NDIS and ensure the signs of economic buoyancy come to fruition” Ms Holebrook said.
The CCIQ council overwhelmingly backed initiatives, such as 0 per cent infrastructure charges on new developments in Bundaberg, and said it was focussed on bringing new investment to the region.
Mr Morgan said his council would provide a Wide Bay business priorities report within six months.
“Business owners are encouraged to have their say and help develop a vision for the future,” he said.
Any businesses keen to have input should email CCIQ Regional Manager Grant Ferry at email@example.com and they will consulted in advance of the report publication.