I’ve managed to be in all three eastern state capitals this month, looking at retail and working alongside business owners and CEOs of Australian companies as well as the subsidiaries of multinational companies. So, I’ve seen both big and small operators and it’s been a good month.
There is now a consistent vibrancy at all levels of business, with NSW finally feeling like it’s a state growing businesses and investing with an eye to the future.
Victoria hasn’t missed a beat in the last decade so all good there, and even though Queensland may be slower outside of the central triumvirate of Brisbane, the Sunshine and Gold coasts, the business activity in the middle of the state’s coastline seems strong.
Which is a bit of a surprise at first glance, as the mining bust should be dragging NSW and Queensland down. Sure, construction has made a huge difference to work within the capital cities, where the numbers of cranes, shiny new Mack trucks pulling dog trailers, pristine concrete pumping trucks, VW Amarok utes and high viz vests are visual testament to our rapidly changing economy.
Tradies driving grossing $10,000 a month with overtime and driving German utes! What next? Sausage dogs in the back tray to protect the tools instead of a blue heeler?
Just for the record, I for one am very happy to see high viz vests in pubs, coffee shops and our cities’ top restaurants as this is the barometer of growth in our cities.
A self-employed brickie earning $1 a brick, laying 1000 bricks a day and paying two hoddies to bring him bricks deserves to eat or drink wherever they like. He’s working hard, leaving a legacy in our buildings and creating jobs for others.
But away from the obvious construction boom, small business now does appear to be growing, both existing and new ones being set up.
My feeling is that all the high-profile talking and policy making at federal and state level is finally flowing through into confidence to grow.
At a federal level, we have the Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson. He has lived small business; faced the frustration of red tape and business admin from all three levels of government. He lost money when his family’s business went bad, and still pays for that in the monthly mortgage payments he makes. He also, very pleasingly, is his own man.
He is forging policy that matters to small Australian business owners, often in the face of severe pressure from large Australian and multinational business leaders. Perhaps some parts of the business community are happy to support jobs growth, but only in their own corporate environment. It’s sad, but true.
At a state level in NSW, David Thodey was appointed to head the state government’s “Jobs for New South Wales” fund with $190 million available for investment in, or support of, business. Recently Fairfax journalist David Ramli reported that: “the Jobs for NSW fund will consolidate a range of existing taxpayer dollars and spend it on opportunities to be picked by leading figures in the private sector. At least 30% of the fund will go to regional areas. The state government, led by Premier Mike Baird, has committed to creating 150,000 new jobs over the four years ending March 2019 and the fund is designed to help it reach the target.” Love it.
In the last week I‘ve met with two women who are starting their own business. One a young 20-something Gen Y who is leaving the ABC to do something for herself. The other is a 50-something boomer who involuntarily left her senior executive role at a large corporation. I’ll do my best to assist both in the little ways that I can. But more importantly the big flow on from federal and state government support may well improve their chances of not just survival, but growth.