The state government’s landmark Investment Attraction Package for Regional NSW has been welcomed across the board, although both the Tamworth and NSW Business Chamber have reservations about the impact of further loans.
Deputy premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro announced the package on Wednesday, which is designed to not only stimulate regional economies but also further define pathways to relocate businesses.
The package includes a $20 million Regional Investment Attraction Fund, which will be dispersed as interest free loans to offset government levies and duties, such as payroll tax.
A $10 million Skills Relocation Assistance package will be given out in $10,000 grants to help businesses assist skilled workers in transitioning to regional areas. The money would be available for costs involved in relocating such as house removals and temporary accommodation.
The third major initiative will be the implementation of Investment Concierges, designed to support “businesses investing in, or moving to regional NSW to provide easy access to incentives, smooth the planning process, help lodge applications and liaise with government departments.”
NSW Business Chamber regional manager Joe Townsend welcomed any government incentives for further investment, although in the same vein as drought relief packages, questioned whether loans were the answer.
“It is an attractive offer, and we welcome anything that will help tackle the skills shortage in our region and attract investment and jobs growth,” he said.
“There is a fundamental issue with loans – regional businesses need more customers not more loans.”
Locally, president of the Tamworth Business Chamber Jye Segboer said the skills relocation package and concierge would be great for our region, but also took aim at the loans.
“The skills relocation package will be a great incentive for skilled workers to move regionally and assist businesses in attracting high skilled workers,” he said.
“While giving interest free loans sounds attractive, it will not take away from the fact that government levies and duties are still high.
“The rising of the tax threshold for payroll tax is a welcomed relief, however we would like to see a further reduction which would encourage growth, investment and employment.
“Regional cities like Tamworth will become more attractive places to live but we won’t get major growth through relocation assistance, it will be through more infrastructure and investment in water, roads and the overall livability of our city.”