Local businesses helping local businesses
  • Wednesday 29 February 2012

Can your company give assistance to fellow Coast companies in times of need?

Specialist local firms are being called on to join a panel of Professional Service Providers to assist Sunshine Coast Council deliver its Local Business Support Program.

The Local Business Support Program has been established by council to assist local businesses reach their potential and to access good quality advice to enable them to make the best decisions about the future of their business.

The firms that are selected for the panel of professional service providers will need to be available to approved local businesses seeking advice.

"Council recognises that the 34,500-plus registered businesses across the Coast are the lifeblood of the regional economy – they provide jobs for locals, they service the needs of this community, they invest in the community and bring in further investment that all supports and builds the resilience of the regional economy," council’s Economic Development Manager Craig Matheson said.

"Council wants local businesses to succeed - and recognises that right now, the economic conditions are such that many businesses are struggling.

"This is why council has established the Local Business Support Program – so that we can assist Sunshine Coast businesses in a timely way and with the information and advice that best meets their individual needs and circumstances," Mr Matheson said.

The program was established in October last year and is now being expanded to better reach and support a larger number of businesses.

Establishing the Professional Service Panel is one major way that council can link local specialists in law, accounting, business planning and town planning to other Sunshine Coast businesses who either need help or are looking to grow.

Wendy Miller, Business Development Manager with Keating and Associates, an Accountancy service provider, said the idea was just what the Coast needed in these difficult times.

"We jumped at the chance to work with council as a service provider; we need to work together at a local level to ensure the future economic wellbeing of the whole region," Wendy said.

Jim Carlile, CEO of Fergusson Cannon Lawyers said the service provider system was an innovative and timely response from council to the advisory needs of business during a challenging time on the Sunshine Coast.

"Many local companies don’t know where to turn in difficult times, or think professional help will be too expensive for them to access," he said.

"This puts the right people in touch with each other – it works."

Mr Matheson said eligible prospective PSPs will include specific expertise in accountancy, law or town planning and have demonstrated specialist small business practice.

"They must be willing to enter into a service agreement with council regarding quality and consultation process, and meet value-for-money expectations," he said.

"They will also be required to publish fixed charge-out rates and offer a free, one-hour consultation to businesses seeking assistance under this program."

The PSPs in turn will be eligible to invoice council for their work, dependent upon outcomes of the meetings with the selected businesses.

Economic Development and Entrepreneurship portfolio councillor, Lew Brennan, said the program is designed to assist businesses which may have trouble finding the right advice in a challenging set of circumstances.

"We are 110% committed to building the economy of this region and we can only do this if we have strong local businesses," Cr Brennan said.

"The very last thing we want to see during that process is existing local businesses running into trouble – which might have been avoided but for getting some good advice or having a different set of eyes look at a problem.

"Council’s Local Business Support Program is a fantastic way for us to work with local business to help local business - and that is why it has been put in place.

"As far as I am concerned, there is no better place to do business than the Sunshine Coast and council’s Local Business Support Program is all about showing that we are serious about encouraging our businesses to flourish," Cr Brennan said.

Contact Kellie Holdsworth (kellie.holdsworth@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au) on 5475 8776 for full details regarding submission of an Expression of Interest to join the Professional Services Panel. Applications are open until March 9.