Business conditions on the Central Coast are facing a triple threat of drought, bushfires and weak household demand.
Lacklustre revenues are reflective of weak household spending, with recent data indicating a large proportion of the most recent personal income tax cuts are not being spent and we are yet to see the full impact of the bushfires.
The cost of red tape and rising business costs across the Coast, mostly energy and insurance costs are continuing to escalate.
This is placing heavy burdens on our member operations, coming on top of existing skills shortages already hampering growth prospects.
We need to continue to work hard to stem any potential shedding of staff and focus on improving the number of jobs in our region given. Last quarter saw nearly 10,000 less employed people on the Central Coast, which is 3 times worse than Newcastle and 10 times worse than Sydney.
The best way to support local business is to buy local. Let’s get behind our local businesses because our communities depend on them for employment and economic opportunity.
February has seen NSW Business Chamber go into overdrive as we galvanise our resources to assist business with the beginnings of regional recovery.
Our CEO, Stephen Cartwright attended the January Ministerial Roundtable in Canberra to put forward practical ideas that will help rebuild devastated communities.
We conducted a survey of 1,344 people in the height of the crisis who told us that 96% of tourists would consider returning to those areas, but only 11% would do so immediately citing safety and access as their primary concern.
Last week we launched the backingthebush.com.au campaign encouraging business to pledge their commitment to support small business in regional areas by holding their team meetings and conferences in fire affected areas.
This week our very own Central Coast Regional Coordinator, Amanda Denichilo has been seconded until the end of March to GIVIT. Amanda will be coordinating the delivery of locally purchased goods and donations to those in impacted areas from the Central Coast to Blue Mountains to Nambucca. GIVIT spends donated funds in the local towns, so it means the money stays in the area. Go Amanda!
In the advocacy space, NSW Business Chamber lobbied to reduce confusion around disaster assistance and Service NSW stepped up to launch the new Bushfire Customer Care helpline to help navigate affected businesses through the myriad of funding assistance.
We also are calling on the Federal and NSW Governments, and the official charities, to direct some of its already committed funding toward the provision of $500 vouchers so that small businesses can get financial advice from their local accountant on the best way to recover and rebuild.
The road to recovery will be long and arduous but we are committed to finding new and innovative ways to help our members rebuild and flourish.
If you have any questions regarding the bushfire relief programmes, please don’t hesitate to call us on 02 4391 0600.
Paula Martin – Regional Director Central Coast, NSW Business Chamber