A strategy designed to use the small business sector as a driver of Queensland’s economic recovery, including a $140 million spending roadmap for funds allocated in the December 2020 state budget, has been revealed.
Queensland employment and small business minister Di Farmer unveiled the ‘Big Plans for Small Business Strategy’ on Monday.
The minister said the plan was designed to not only ensure small companies survived the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but thrived into the future.
“We all know that COVID has changed everything, and we all need to work together to navigate the new economic landscape. We really do need to think in a way we’ve never thought before,” Farmer said.
The strategy also details how the government will spend its $140 million support package for small enterprises, announced in last year’s state budget. Farmer noted that the bulk of the funding — $100 million — would go into a business investment fund, with another $30 million allocated to skills and capability grants, and some extra money dedicated to permanently establishing the Queensland Small Business Commissioner.
“In the next few months we will also be putting out an EOI for small businesses to join the Queensland Small Business Advisory Council, to ensure that small businesses remain at the heart of our policy development,” Farmer said.
“I am looking forward to building on this work to make Queensland the best place to be for small business.”
The strategy has been developed using three other state government strategies or plans including the state economic recovery plan, the Queensland small business strategy discussion paper, and the advancing small business Queensland strategy.
The government also used consultation with thousands of companies from a roadshow conducted earlier in 2021 to inform the document, with a view to including additional feedback from a future workforce summit to address state-wide labour shortages.
Recruiting and retaining workers is one of the top concerns of local small businesses, Farmer said. As a result, she said a planned Workforce Summit for later this year would bring industry and enterprise leaders together with employers and training providers to identify how industry and workforce partnerships can improve the situation.
“It’s now time to bring together stakeholders and identify what we need to do next,” Farmer said.
“There will also be a number of related events in the lead up to the summit.”
The minister added that the summit would focus on six areas of business success, identified in a 2018 Future work for small businesses report, which considers the essential skills and capabilities required to support growth in the industry.
The six areas include finance, human resources, marketing, leadership and management, and digital and data skills, as well as skills specific to the business and its operations.
Farmer also used today’s announcement to launch an online health check service for companies, which can generate a personalised report for small enterprises based on answers to a questionnaire, with additional resources and information to help address common pitfalls. The Business Health Check service can be accessed online.