Geelong business optimism strong

ALMOST half of businesses participating in a Geelong Business Trends Survey expect to hire more staff in 2017, and 79 per cent expect their sales to increase.

Seventy-seven per cent of operators anticipate a rise in profits during the current financial year.

Geelong Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Bernadette Uzelac has welcomed the indicators that confidence in Geelong’s economy continues to go from strength to strength, with optimism high for future growth in a number of key industries.

The third annual survey is a joint initiative by the chamber and Deakin Business School.

“What’s pleasing is that several of Geelong’s key industries, including manufacturing, are very optimistic about the future direction of the region’s economy,” Ms Uzelac said.

“There’s been a slight overall rise from the previous year in the overall confidence of businesses, with 46 per cent of businesses expecting to hire more staff in the next 12 months.

“Our manufacturing sector, which has been the backbone of Geelong’s economy for more than a century, is reinventing itself from its ‘traditional’ base into new niche areas that will drive our economy forward.

Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander said it was pleasing the results in the Business Trends Survey indicated the local business community was as optimistic for Geelong’s future as Deakin.

“We are very positive about the future of Geelong, which is strategically progressing towards a smart city where wealth is created through education and jobs for the industries of the future,” Prof den Hollander said.

“We are seeing this come to fruition through the Geelong Innovation Precinct at our Waurn Ponds campus. In five years the precinct has led directly to the creation of over 1000 jobs through industry partnerships and co-location opportunities”

Deakin Business School’s Professor Barry Cooper said the survey results reflected a city embracing the challenges of change.

“As a city in transition it is common to see some ups and downs in business performance,” Prof Cooper said.

“It was therefore encouraging to see that despite some businesses not being as profitable as expected, overall 89 per cent of those surveyed reported an increase or no change in the numbers of employees in 2016 with 46 per cent saying they expect to take on more staff in the future.”

The survey also revealed opportunities to better support business growth.

“Some 25 per cent of respondents said poor local government leadership, policy or support was the greatest barrier to business growth, indicating the importance they place on support from the Geelong council,” Prof Cooper said.

“As the survey was taken during changeover in council leadership this result is not likely to be a reflection of the work of the current administrators.

“The results highlight an opportunity for the administrators and future council members to break down any barriers and partner with the local business community to ensure the continued economic growth of the city.”

Ms Uzelac was pleased overall confidence levels among Geelong businesses had increased significantly during the past two years, from 46 per cent to 62 per cent.

“Understandably not all industry sectors are as confident, with education, community services and government slightly lower than last year,” Ms Uzelac said.

“Which is why the chamber will continue to advocate to support these important growth sectors for Geelong to all levels of government so they can move forward with greater confidence.”

View the Deakin Business Trends Survey here.

Source: Based on a Geelong Chamber of Commerce and Deakin Business School media release