Time for an ACT business growth strategy: the Chamber's call for action in our 2021 budget submission


By Graham Catt posted 16-06-2021 16:05


In our 2021-22 ACT Budget Submission the Canberra Business Chamber called on the ACT Government to fund critical research and deliver a detailed strategic plan for business growth.

Chamber CEO Graham Catt noted the high rate of business closures in the ACT and said the lack of data around the underlying issues threatening the long-term survival of the Territory’s small to medium-sized businesses presented a barrier to economic recovery and growth in the ACT.

“During the peak of COVID, it was to be expected that business closures would occur,” Mr Catt said. “But even before the pandemic, we had a trend of unusually high failure rates compared with the rest of Australia.

At the end of June 2020, there were 30,800 businesses in the ACT – reflecting steady overall growth year-on-year. However the ACT has the lowest long-term business survival rate in the country: within five years, only 62.5% of ACT startups are still trading.

The Chamber has asked for a regular survey of the local business community and economic conditions, similar to The Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain which tracks the key drivers of change for SME’s and provides critical data so policy makers and the business community can act and plan for the future.

Mr Catt said the ACT Government’s Jobs & Economic Recovery Plan acknowledged the leading role the private sector would play in jobs growth in the ACT, but to achieve the plan’s projected 250,000 jobs by 2025, high-quality data, along with a business growth strategy addressing sector targets, future skills and labour demand, and the development of education and training was essential.

“Planning ahead is critical if we want to achieve business and jobs growth,” Mr Catt said. “We hear time and again from our members about skills and labour shortages and this is just one of the issues that needs to be addressed through a combination of clever strategy and good data.”

“The Chamber is ready to work with the ACT Government on developing a blueprint for the long-term economic prosperity of the Territory, including meeting the jobs growth targets in its recovery plan. The key to this is supporting a diverse, prosperous and sustainable business community.”

After the release of the Chamber's latest media release, Mr Catt was interviewed by ABC, RiotACT and CanberraWeekly.