Catherine Pham, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland
Catherine Pham, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland

Small business enjoys a boom on the Coast

OPINION: Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

That phrase certainly describes the Sunshine Coast at the moment.

With the lowest unemployment rate in Queensland of 4.7% (compared to the State average of 6.1%), a pipeline of major projects and strong leadership from the Sunshine Coast Council, it's no wonder there is a momentum of confidence sweeping the region.

And why shouldn't there be with so much going on.

The region's future will be shaped by major projects including the soon-to-open Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Stockland's Aura and Oceanside projects, the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion and the development of the new Maroochydore City Centre.

Those four major projects alone will create more than 95,000 jobs and boost the regional economy by $17 billion dollars - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Alongside a number of other infrastructure projects set to start in the near future, the region has been able to successfully redefine itself as the entrepreneurial hub of south east Queensland.

Mayor Mark Jamieson recently spoke of the region's ethos, which is to start and end with one proposition: the future is here.

Whether or not it is this mentality of bringing the future forward and creating opportunities for innovation has been the driving force behind the strength of the Sunshine Coast economy, it is sure to have played a part in bucking statewide trends across all economic indicators.

Nevertheless, the region still faces a number of lingering challenges around transport and infrastructure, as well as developing the skills that are needed to power the new economy.

Sub-par infrastructure has affected domestic tourism and international tourism to a certain extent, at a time when the industry is flourishing.

It is vital to maximise the tourism potential of our State.

Given that the region relies relatively heavily on its tourism for its local economy, it is also particularly vulnerable to penalty rates in retail, hospitality and accommodation sectors.

Furthermore, while low unemployment rates are positive on the whole, genuine skills shortages may begin kicking in and wages may need to increase as employers compete within a smaller pool of workers.

While these issues cannot be ignored, it seems the region is only building greater momentum when it comes to succeeding as a change-maker.

With continued optimism, strong advocacy and greater collaboration, time is sure to tell of a bright future ahead.

  • Catherine Pham is a senior policy advisor with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ).

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