With booming job vacancies, government and private enterprise support packages, small business prospects in Port Pirie may be better than ever

Updated October 25 2022 - 9:35am, first published October 21 2022 - 11:45am

Port Pirie may not be the most obvious choice when it comes to starting a small business.

After all, the challenges that regional businesses of all sizes face today seem never-ending.

But, with soaring job vacancies across Port Pirie that fit the small business model and growing economic and social policy centered on small business - traders have more support than ever.

What challenges do small business owners face?

Port Pirie is not immune to the challenges that many regional towns face in attracting and sustaining a local workforce.

"Lack of accommodation, childcare and transport options and transient populations, all present a significant challenge for small businesses in regional areas," Employment Facilitator for Mid North Local Jobs Program and Business Port Pirie board vice-president, Lisa Brock said.

"Other challenges for small businesses include the cost of doing business - fuel, freight, electricity," Ms Brock said.

Strategies in Port Pirie to encourage small business growth

The business sector in Port Pirie is increasingly connected and networked with training opportunities through TAFE and the Spencer Gulf Uni Hub.

On November 9, Port Pirie will host a free event called 'Where are self-employment, small business, start-up and growth opportunities?'

"The event will help Port Pirie community members understand where the jobs are, where there is demand for products and services and what programs are locally available," facilitator at Sea to Valley Start-ups, Wendy Perry said.

When people start a business, they are often very focused on ... their passion and interests, which motivates them to get going. As Self-Employment Assistance facilitators we look at how to add to their business in a way that makes it economically viable, diversifies their income and matches the opportunities in the region. Wendy Perry, Facilitator, Sea to Valley Start-ups.

Federal program development in regional areas

There's a never-ending number of employment agencies, government programs, training, support groups and business alliances in regional areas.

But, as Ms Brock explains, the real challenge lies in ensuring people know where to go, who to speak to and how to navigate these services, which is something Business Port Pirie aims to help small businesses with.

"Business Port Pirie works to ensure we give voice to local businesses and to their ideas for better business outcomes in the region," Ms Brock said.

"Government is also harnessing a more integrated approach by addressing housing affordability, council housing stock and increasing private investment," Ms Perry said.

There is also a strategic focus on supporting the whole family unit, as well as addressing long-term, generational disadvantage that prevents people from entering the workforce, such as Port Pirie's historically high unemployment, youth underemployment and mental health rates.

Additionally, in July 2022, the introduction of the Self-employment Assistance program, administered by Workforce Australia, broadened eligibility criteria for small business owners.

The program is now funded to provide free self-employment and small business training, workshops and support.

What could small business look like in Port Pirie?

According to Ms Perry, Port Pirie is a booming regional town, with renewed interest in small business related to accommodation, renewable energy, abattoir and meat processing, cleaning and within the aged and childcare sector.

"Regardless of the industry - professional, contractor, trade, entry-level, health, administration, sales and other industries are all in high demand for workers in regional areas," Ms Brock said.

'There is also a latent workforce in Port Pirie which requires flexible workforce policies and roles to reengage it, particularly amongst mature aged people, veterans, single parents, people with a disability, mothers and First Nations people," Ms Brock said.

This latent workforce can potentially suit the small business model more than larger, less flexible corporations.

Huge tourism development within the region has also emphasised Port Pirie's location near the Flinders Ranges, the foreshore upgrade, the Town Ambassador program and the #buylocal initiative.

"The entrepreneur ecosystem is more diverse than ever before," Ms Perry said.

Do you know someone who is interested in the Where are self-employment, small business, start-up and growth opportunities? On 9 November 2022 from 6.00 pm - 8.00 pm at Carn Brae, Port Pirie, please see this link:

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