The Hunter Business Chamber last week revealed the latest results of the NSW Business Chamber’s quarterly Business Conditions Survey, showing that business confidence had declined across the state and in the Hunter.

While business confidence in both the ‘Newcastle and Lake Macquarie’ and ‘Hunter Valley’ statistical areas had bucked the state-wide negative trend in the past two reports, the region came “back to the pack” in the latest survey. 

The survey assesses business confidence by comparing the percentage of respondents reporting a stronger economy against those reporting weaker conditions. The change was most marked in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, where business confidence has slipped from being “relatively strong” in December 2018 to “below average” in the July 2019 survey.  

There are a number of factors behind this regional and state-wide results, including the ongoing impact of the drought, slow retail sales and a drop-off in previously high construction activity.

Drought conditions continue to affect businesses across regional NSW, not just in the agricultural sector but across the business spectrum as spending restrictions in rural communities bite. Any economic stimulus, such as the Upper Hunter roads and airport funding announced by the State Government last week, is a welcome boost for those areas. 

The recent Bush Summit in Dubbo provided a rare opportunity to train the focus of decision-makers across all levels of government on the plight of drought-affected communities and hopefully some constructive action will flow from that exercise, particularly in infrastructure investment.

On a brighter note, the Business Conditions Survey showed optimism about an upturn in business conditions looking forward. Interest rate reductions, tax cuts and deeming rate changes will all result in more money going into people’s pockets, so it is hoped the ‘pay packet effect’ will lift spirits and bottom lines.

Regional Tourism awards

The Hunter Business Chamber is co-hosting the Destination Sydney Surrounds North Regional Tourism Awards in Newcastle on Monday 29 July. 

The event is a great opportunity to turn the tourism spotlight on our region and bring our tourism operators and their staff together to connect and celebrate the achievements of the industry.

Tourism is an important and growing industry sector in the Hunter and the Chamber is taking an active role in facilitating interaction and collaboration between regional operators. The Chamber is proud to have City of Newcastle as a major partner for this event.

The lunch event is at NOAH's On the Beach from noon. Tickets are still available through the Chamber website.

An evening with the minister

The Hunter Business Chamber is pleased to be partnering with the Hunter Research Foundation Centre to bring the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, to the region for a dinner event at NEX on Wednesday 14 August.

Mr Stokes’s broad-ranging portfolio responsibilities have significant potential to influence the economic development and diversification of our region, so it will be very interesting to hear his thoughts on the future of the Hunter.

The event continues the collaborative work the Chamber and the HRF Centre have been doing to progress regional priorities. Tickets for the dinner are available here.

Kind regrads,

Bob Hawes, CEO of the Hunter Business Chamber