Investment Attraction Package for Regional NSW a good start

Regional NSW is home to 2.9 million people, comprising 41% of NSW’s population making it the largest and most diverse regional economy in Australia. According to our drought survey, 84 per cent of businesses in regional NSW have been negatively affected by the state’s crippling drought with cash-flow impacted adversely.

Our local small businesses are a vital part of the economy as a whole, and their success is essential to the economic growth and prosperity. When the economy is firing on all systems, small businesses have the unrivalled potential to create jobs and put money back into communities.

A recent international study found that for every dollar spent at a small business, 68 percent funnels back into the local community, compared with just 46 percent from major retailers.

Yesterday’s announcement by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, answers the calls made by NSW Business Chamber for incentives that reward investment in regional NSW, and these measures provide targeted assistance.

These measures will go a long way to lifting the gaze of decision makers to look more closely at regions like Western NSW and we need to make sure existing businesses also get a leg up for growing locally. It was pleasing that the government again recognises businesses have been calling for payroll tax relief, access to a skilled workforce and simpler approval systems.

The ‘Skills Relocation Assistance’ grant of up to $10,000 will help meet the cost of attracting and moving skilled staff to regional areas.  This will be vitally important with the current project pipeline around the region including the Regional Rail Project in Dubbo, the Parkes Logistics Hub, and other infrastructure projects, but we need to ensure the skills that are being targeted match the skills that are needed for these projects.

We are disappointed that we are still yet to see any assistance for existing businesses who are affected by drought.  These businesses are already employing, training and supporting our local people, contributing to our local economies and they need support to ensure they survive this time.  If not, we stand to lose those skills we are seeking to attract.

The NSW Business Chambers Red Tape Survey of almost 1,000 businesses, identified that NSW businesses are weighed down by an estimated $10 billion in compliance costs each year. The Government is often difficult to navigate, with businesses unaware of available support. This is where the NSW concierge service will assist eligible businesses each step of the way and develop a bespoke support package.

It is critical that governments, communities and business continue to work together to attract investment in regional NSW, particularly investment that can support long-term sustainable enterprise from outside the region and attract businesses, their staff, and their families to Western NSW.

Vicki Seccombe

Regional Manager - Western NSW, NSW Business Chamber