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Small business focus pays off

Tuesday, 02 August 2016

The State Government’s decision to bring together three key offices and agencies dedicated to supporting South Australian SMEs is set to build on recent signs of improvement in the sector.

Latest positive signs include an additional 78 South Australian businesses now exporting internationally in the past 12 months; latest economic, confidence and investment surveys showing gains and an increase in the rate of Government contracts going to local firms.

In 206-17, for the first time, the three key SME areas – the State Government’s Small Business Unit, Office of the Small Business Commissioner and Office of the Industry Advocate have been drawn together the Small Business portfolio a strategy that was delivering streamlined services and yielding strong economic results.

Minister for Investment and Trade and Minister for Small Business Martin Hamilton-Smith said a number of recent surveys, including the Sensis Business Index Survey, NAB Quarterly SME Survey, NAB Quarterly Business Survey and ANZ/Property Council Survey, all indicate improving business confidence and conditions in South Australia.

In addition, latest ABS figures show the total number goods exporters increased by 78, or 3.5 per cent, in 2014/15 compared the previous year.

Planned growth of the Office of the Industry Advocate, today advertising for two new category managers, will build on its strong 12 month results to April 2016. These figures show 90% retained spending in the State from major construction procurements, benefiting local SMEs and supply chain firms.

The Office of the Small Business Commissioner increased its efficiency, with cases closed more than doubling to 238 in 2015-16 in 2014-15 from 116 the previous year. Eighty per cent of these were successfully closed or closed with assistance provided.

Background

The Government is supporting the state’s small businesses by creating the right business environment, improving business capabilities, connecting small businesses to market opportunities and funding business growth. Since the role of Industry Participation Advocate (IPA) was established in February 2013 the value of goods and services contracts (2014- 15) let with suppliers located in South Australia has risen to 90.2% compared with just 51% in 2012-13, clearly showing how successful the IPA role has been. This represents almost $640 million of additional supply-chain opportunities for local SMEs.

Ensuring that local businesses have opportunity to be involved in government contracts through the Office of Industry Advocate is paying dividends in investment and jobs. The Government will further support local companies by investing $350,000 per year for four years.

The success of the Industry Advocate role has largely been due to the level of communication established with South Australian businesses. As more businesses take up the opportunity to work with government it is important the Office of the Industry Advocate has people who know key sectors (or categories) well, can engage with them and support them to be successful.

The new category managers will support the Industry Advocate with additional knowledge of local industry and prevailing business conditions and provide other input so government agencies are aware of new, innovative, value for money solutions proposed by South Australian businesses.

This will ensure the Industry Participation Plan benefits are being realised and more importantly, that ways are identified to promote innovation and capture further Business across the state are benefitting from South Australian Government policies giving them first go at almost $4 billion worth of goods and services contracts let annually by the government.

Quotes attributable to Small Business Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith

South Australian small businesses are the engine room of the state’s economy, accounting for 98 per cent of businesses in South Australia, employing around 249,000 people and contributing $34 billion to the economy

South Australian businesses, including new entries have the highest survival rate of all mainland states. In March this year, KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives Report listed Adelaide as the lowest cost city in Australia for business location costs. We are abolishing taxes that constrain business investment and growth. These changes will return almost $2.5 billion to South Australian businesses.

More than $4.5 million is allocated to improving business capabilities through workshops, training programs and mentoring in partnership with Business SA and the University of South Australia’s Centre for Business Growth. The $10 million Small Business Development Fund is supporting small businesses to start, grow and create jobs in northern Adelaide. I announced the first recipients of funding under this initiative in Adelaide’s north last week.