Small business confidence heading for high points in Toowoomba and Surat Basin in 2017
Small business confidence in the Toowoomba and Surat Basin region is higher than other parts of Queensland, according to latest research by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ).
The CCIQ-Suncorp Pulse Survey of Business Conditions – the largest poll of its kind in Queensland – found confidence levels were significantly higher (50.9) than the average of businesses state wide (47.9)
CCIQ has teamed up with Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise to provide a Pulse snapshot for the region covering the January 1-March 31 quarter.
About 75 local businesses responded to the survey, as part of almost 600 across Queensland.
The last Pulse survey for the December quarter showed business confidence in Queensland had jumped to its highest level in three years and the signs were very positive for the following 12 months.
CCIQ chief economist Steven Gosarevski said business confidence in the state economy recorded another substantial increase in the March quarter, rising to its highest level since 2014.
“Despite the strong improvement over the past six months, confidence is still below the neutral level (50.0),” he said.
Mr Gosarevski said the survey responses in the Toowoomba and Surat Basin region represented businesses across most industries, with manufacturing, agriculture, property and business services the largest contributors.
“This is generally representative of the regional industry profile where these industries represent a large share of total business registrations and total employment. The survey also captured businesses of all sizes with more than two-thirds of the sample represented by businesses with under 20 employees.”
Toowoomba and Surat Basin respondents were well ahead of Regional Queensland and the Queensland average in their sentiment on the Queensland economy for the March quarter.
“Businesses in the Toowoomba and Surat Basin (50.9) are optimistic about the outlook for the Queensland economy. This level of optimism is higher than the average of businesses Queensland wide (47.9) and the average for businesses in Regional Queensland (49.1),” said Mr Gosarevski.
“The views of businesses cited economic factors such as the level of interest rates and the Australian dollar as reasons for optimism over the next 12 months.
“The recent improvements in coal prices and increased coal seam gas drilling were seen as positives for business conditions while comments on the agriculture sector produced mixed responses.
“Some responses cited the impact of drought and Tropical Cyclone Debbie as negatives for business activity while other responses indicated some segments of the agriculture industry had enjoyed higher price and increased yields.”
Operating conditions for businesses in the Toowoomba and Surat Basin were above the state average for most categories for the March quarter. General Business Conditions (51.4) outranked the Queensland average by 2.7 points.
“This optimism is buoyed by the strong conditions reported for Sales & Revenue and Employment Levels which were 5.5 points higher than the state average. This indicates improving demand for business products and services,” said Mr Gosarevski.
“Businesses in the Toowoomba and Surat Basin region are expecting further improvements to General Business Conditions in the quarter ahead with an index reading of 51.7 points. The levels of optimism are at a similar level to the past quarter and above the average for the state and regional areas.
“Levels of confidence are above the neutral level (50.0) and are higher than the rest of the state for Profitability, Sales & Revenue and Employment Levels.”
Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise executive chairman Shane Charles said the results were a positive indicator for businesses across the region in a wide range of industries.
“Toowoomba and the wider region is seeing growth in business confidence as well as investment attraction and development,” Mr Charles said.
“The recent Federal Budget announcement for $8.4billion for the Inland Rail is also a huge boost to our region. Industries from manufacturing, agriculture, resources, education and health are all seeing benefits from increased optimism in the region, and development opportunities.”
This first Pulse survey for 2017 will be significant for CCIQ in understanding how the current business conditions will affect SMEs over the coming months.