Far North Queensland businesses call for support of their vision
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has urged state and local leaders to provide more support for Far North small businesses.
CCIQ’s Far North Queensland Regional Policy Council, which met in Cairns this week, said now was the time to unlock opportunities in the region and share its vision.
The council, which has appointed Cairns legal partner Luckbir Singh as its new chair, discussed issues impacting on small and medium businesses in the Far North.
Mr Singh said these included how to promote the skills expansion in the region, embrace new technologies and tackle some of the unique challenges facing smaller townships.
He said businesses recognised there was an opportunity to promote economic activity, but the priority was how to attract new customers and develop employment skills.
“As the pre-eminent business group in the Far North, we are calling for optimism and cohesiveness across all levels of government to deliver new entrepreneurial-led opportunities for Cairns and surrounding areas,” Mr Singh said.
The CCIQ council backed Cairns Regional Council’s ‘Smart City’ vision, but wanted all of Far North Queensland to aspire to becoming a “Smart Region”.
Mr Singh said money allocated in the State Budget in June would help the region develop further.
“We are a region driven by the success and innovation of our local small businesses and private enterprise more broadly,” he said.
“But we are finding more and more that people are nervous to move, work and stay in the region due to a variety of reasons that have combined to downplay confidence.”
Mr Singh said the quarterly meeting of business leaders enabled key stakeholders to closely examine issues impacting on SMEs and how best to make progress.
Many business owners expressed concern about a big focus on infrastructure – perhaps drawing attention away from a need to create a “future-focused identity” for the region.
“The Far North needs to look to the future to define its identity and business can play a leadership role in this space,” Mr Singh said.
“No doubt there is a need for continued investment in the Far North, but public dialogue must also focus on attracting people to our region and growing a knowledge economy.
“Our opportunities as a region are endless. The whole of Far North Queensland, from a business perspective, needs to start positioning itself as a Smart Region.
“Local Government councils, along with business leaders, should play a strong role to drive this into the future to generate new business, skills and people attraction and retention.
“It is integral to our competitiveness in the new economy that the Far North defines its identity locally, nationally and internationally, as a lifestyle with a healthy, vibrant and future-focused business sector.
“Our Regional Policy Council sees itself as working with Local Government councils in the region to quickly implement Smart Region thinking to overcome some of the challenges of today.
“As small business is the lifeblood of these communities, we will continue to provide a voice to local businesses to work towards unlocking tomorrow's opportunities in the Far North over the coming 12 months.”
Mr Singh said his council would provide a FNQ business priorities report within six months.
“Business owners are encouraged to have their say and help develop a vision for the future.”
Any businesses keen to have input should email CCIQ Regional Manager Amy Turnbull at firstname.lastname@example.org expressing interest and they will be included in consultation before the development of the report.