Business confidence remains high on the Coast
  • Monday 30 January 2017
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Business confidence on the Sunshine Coast remains high, according to the latest regional survey.

Findings from the November 2016 Sunshine Coast Business Confidence Survey announced today, revealed a consistently positive sentiment amongst businesses on the Sunshine Coast and an optimistic outlook for continued growth over the next six months. 

The survey quizzed respondents on business profitability, capital investment, business constraints and the smart city technologies.

The business confidence index remained high at 116 points, one point below the record high in September 2015 but still nine points higher than the year-on-year average. 

More than 88% of businesses surveyed expect the same or increased profitability levels over the next six months and 92% indicated they will maintain or increase staffing levels.

More than 90% of businesses also expect to increase or maintain capital investment over the next six months.    

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the rise in business confidence levels on the Sunshine Coast in recent years reflected the enormous value in having a clear and coherent plan for the region’s future prosperity and growth and a determined approach to seeing that plan implemented. 

“The consistently high levels business confidence we’ve seen on the Coast since 2014 shows there is real optimism within the local business community and that our region is on track to building a sustainable economy,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“One of the greatest gifts any level of government can give to its community is confidence and the high business confidence and lowering unemployment we’re seeing on the Sunshine Coast is certainly encouraging to families that their children have bright futures here.

“The Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) is providing our region with a clear 20-year economic blueprint to build a high-value economy of choice for business, investment and employment.

“The Sunshine Coast is rapidly becoming one of Australia’s leading city regions, providing an outstanding location for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism.

“Our region is already seeing some fantastic results, being recognised as one of the strongest performing regional economies in Queensland and a record decline in unemployment to below the state and national averages.

“Sunshine Coast Council had the busiest year on record in 2016 in terms of development, including issuing $1.28 billion of building approvals, the highest value of building approvals in seven years.

“So we’ve put strong economic foundations in place and more than $10 billion is committed or in the pipeline in major public and private investment across the region.

“We are developing Australia’s only green field CBD at Maroochydore as Australia’s first truly smart city, with work already underway and forecast to contribute $4.4 billion to the local economy over the life of the project.

“The $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital – the largest health infrastructure project in Australia at this time – is due to open in April this year.

“On top of these game-changing projects we have seen the $3 billion Palmview master planned community and the $400 million redevelopment of Sunshine Plaza recently commence.

“The Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project also now has its approvals in place and construction will commence this year, with the expanded Airport contributing $4.1 billion to the region’s economy through to 2040.

“The Sunshine Coast is also driving the development of seven high-value industries identified as having the greatest potential for success and well placed to service demand from domestic and global markets.

“In short – our vision is a healthy, smart, and creative region that has its own identity and is intimately connected to the world.

“It’s also worth noting that a number of priorities business owners identified in the survey that would improve their performance are currently available through council or are currently major projects that council is undertaking.

“The need to re-develop Sunshine Coast Airport was one such constraint that was mentioned and this expansion project will commence this year. Consistent and fast tracked approval processes were also mentioned and in 2016 $1.29 billion worth of building approvals were made.

The upward trend in business confidence is also reflected in the recently released Sensis Business Index report that revealed Queensland’s business confidence index for small to medium businesses (SMBs) reached its highest level since March 2010 in the December quarter 2016.

REDS a key to rising confidence

Sunshine Coast Combined Chambers Alliance Chair Michael Shadforth said the development of the Regional Economic Development Strategy was a major driver behind the rise in business confidence levels.

“The team that worked on that and the collaboration that council went to to get that put together was really clever and therefore there was a whole of region buy-in from all sorts of business,” Mr Shadforth said.

“Then we made sure we focused on the key game changing projects and they just roll off the tongue of everybody you come across now so it seems like they’ve been an overnight success but they’ve been a five year journey.

“We celebrate the fact that the airport project is now funded – I remember five years ago that was a debate and the thought was it would never happen. Now it’s actually happening that gives the people and the business people of the Sunshine Coast confidence in the leadership and also confidence that they’re in a place that’s going forward.

“We’ve created a really entrepreneurial environment where everybody is invited to have a crack and then you’ve also got this massive hospital that’s about to come online which will create a new precinct of health and wellbeing.

“The new talent we’re attracting here is making us an even better and stronger region because they’re coming here for the values we’ve created and the plans we’ve put in place.

"In our global community they’re also talking to people from outside our region and saying ‘I love where I live, why don’t you come and do business here’ and that’s what really grows a fantastic community and that’s where our confidence is coming from.”  

High confidence boosting jobs

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data revealed the Sunshine Coast’s unemployment rate fell by 2.0 percentage points in 2016 to 4.7% in September, well below the 5.6% recorded for Australia.[PM1] 

Youth unemployment is also ahead of the curve at 9.8%, a major drop from 14.2% in November 2014 and well below the current 12.6% recorded for Australia. [PM2] 

These positive numbers are creating noticeable trends in the local recruitment and hiring market. HRM Contracting and Consulting Manager for Sunshine Coast Sally Desch said 2016 had been a buoyant year across numerous job sectors.

“There has been an increase in employers looking for staff ranging from unskilled workers through to professional staff. We recently had a situation where we didn’t have enough tax accountants to fill the local demand vacancies. We also had strong recruiting demand for doctors.

“High business confidence, development on the Coast and the ever-growing talent pool we have here is driving this positive trend and I believe we are on the cusp of really good things to come in 2017.

“I see more positivity and more recruitment and roles becoming available. The Sunshine Coast is also definitely growing which is driving the confidence in health and construction and some of the big players are looking at the area to house their businesses.”

A recent ABS survey also revealed employers on the Sunshine Coast were likely to have grown their business over the past five years, with the proportion of employers who are increasing their staff numbers doubling from 14% in 2011 to 28% in 2016. 

ENDS

Sunshine Coast Business Confidence Survey November 2016 – fast facts:

  • Business Confidence index levels at 116 points – 18 points higher than November 2011 and nine points above year-on-year average
  • 210 businesses participated in the survey across at least 17 industry sectors
  • Broadband and IT access and rising overheads and utility costs rated as the major constraint on growth of local businesses
  • 56% of businesses expect “somewhat stronger” or “much stronger” business performance in the next six months.
  • 92% of businesses will maintain or increase staffing levels in the next six months.
  • 88% of businesses expect the same or increased profitability in the next six months
  • 90% of businesses expect the same or an increased level of capital investment in the next six months
  • The Sunshine Coast Business Confidence Survey has been running since 2009 and this is the 17th survey conducted.