The Tamworth Business Chamber has picked up an alarming pattern in this year’s Quality Business Award nominations, although it is not all bad news.
Nearly 70 per cent of the 350 nominated businesses have named drought as the biggest challenge facing them over the next two years, and while that might not surprise anyone, it is the variety of businesses that should start ringing alarm bells.
TBC Executive Jill Stewart said that while everyone knows farmers are doing it tough, people can forget that drought infiltrates all aspects of business and life in regional Australia.
“Small and large retail, health and wellbeing, and even hair and beauty businesses have all named drought as their greatest challenge – people just aren’t spending the extra money on things they normally would, or at least spending less,” she said.
“It is having a much broader impact than people realise – there is absolutely less spending happening, and if it doesn’t improve the impact will be felt by the whole local economy.
“People are still optimistic, but it is going to get tough.”
While the drought is obviously taking its toll, The Chamber remains optimistic that the region remains in a good position to bounce back once the skies eventually open.
Amore positive trend to come out of the nomination forms has been the marked rise in the amount of young entrepreneurs entering the market across a variety of industries.
“We have had a lot of nominations for young entrepreneurs this year, which has been really exciting to see,” Mrs Stewart said.
“I think it shows the way business is changing, young people willing to go out on their own and be innovative. This sort of thing also leads to more opportunities opening up down the track as these businesses grow.”
Another positive sign has been from the amount of people nominating as business leaders, following the nomination of their businesses.
The business leader category is one of the top gongs, with the winner going on to the State, and possibly even National Business Awards.
“Last year we had 450 businesses nominated, we already have 350 and have two weeks until they close so are hoping to beat that mark,” Mrs Stewart said.
“Ticket sales have been really strong – it is shaping up to be another top night - I just hope we get some rain first.”