The 2019 Port Macquarie-Hastings Local Business Confidence Survey has revealed a softening in local business confidence and trading conditions, however businesses remain optimistic about the future growth of the local economy.
More than 440 businesses were profiled in the survey, revealing local businesses had experienced declining trading conditions in the last year, which is consistent with conditions nationally.
This year’s survey profiled innovation, with results demonstrating that the Port Macquarie-Hastings region has a high rate of business innovation when compared to results from the 2019 Innovation in Hunter Business report.
Innovative businesses reported experiencing significantly better outcomes across all measures, with higher sales and profitability, and a higher propensity to invest in increased staffing and capital expenditure.
Despite a softening in confidence, businesses remain positive that sales and profitability will improve in the next twelve months, with the real estate, education & training, and manufacturing sectors being the most optimistic.
This optimism is consistent with a range of economic indicators and projections, including the Mid-North Coast remaining one of the highest growth areas in NSW for jobs growth, population growth and gross regional exports.
Council director Jeffery Sharp said a range of factors appear to have influenced local business conditions over the past year.
“Businesses are aware of the strong investment that drives local economy growth, with major industrial areas being delivered and continued strong activity in residential construction,” said Mr Sharp
“A number of large organisations are investing significantly in our region, such as Charles Sturt University who are well into a $61m expansion of their Port Macquarie campus.
“Council is also set to deliver over $85m in capital works projects in the 2019/20 financial year, and there is continued growth in development activity, with more than $438 million in approved development last financial year,” Mr Sharp explained.
The survey showed that businesses considered economic conditions as the most important factor to business growth, followed by consumer confidence, operating costs and profitability.
Jobs growth, investment in community infrastructure, sustainable population growth, and investment in roads and infrastructure were all factors influencing regional growth… with tourism marketing also a high priority.
Camden Haven Chamber of Commerce president, Stuart Bate commented on how an influx of visitors over the spring holiday period had activated the area.
“Our tourism sector continues to grow, with high occupancy rates across holiday accommodation,” Mr Bate said.
“This is great news for the Camden Haven, as the visitor economy supports our hospitality and retail sectors which are looking to build on reasonable performance during the recent holiday period as the warmer months bring more visitors to the area.”
Recent tourism data indicates strong growth in the number of domestic visitor nights, from a five-year average of 3.3 nights per visitor, to 4.1 nights in 2018/19.
“It is pleasing to see businesses remain positive about future growth across our region, with approximately 40% expecting profits and sales to grow in the next year.” Mr Sharp added.