Small business is at the heart of the Sunshine Coast. Without a successful small business culture our community is at risk.
One in five of our workforce are self employed – around 22 per cent compared with a national average of 15 per cent.
This means the ways in which each of our levels of governments work to support local business are critical.
There are a number of measures I would like to ensure that the Sunshine Coast Council implements in supporting local business.
It’s not enough to say there is a “buy local” policy.
Broadly, my thoughts are:
– The Council needs to review its preferred supplier arrangements to ensure all businesses regularly have the opportunity to compete to be included in this list. At the moment, if Council decision-makers opt to roll-over a current listing rather than going out to market every two or so years they just do so. This excludes new businesses that we say we want in the region and means that the council isn’t considering or learning about new capabilities and services that may support council operations.
– In awarding major contracts a risk management framework should be applied to ensure
a) A contractor has the capability and resources to deliver the works at hand
b) That one contractor is not receiving the lion’s share of council contract opportunities in the field – using various contractors means the risk is spread
c) That arrangements are in place and a condition of the contract that all subcontractors are paid on agreed milestones. Evidence should be supplied that the subcontractors are paid for their works. If a contractor refuses or fails to do this they should be struck from the preferred suppliers list
– Quarterly financial reports should be provided to council to ensure all suppliers and subcontractors are paid and that the preferred contractor or supplier has the financial capacity to deliver the project and its obligations.
Further to this, I believe we should implement a “weighting” system in the assessment of tender applications to support local businesses. Obviously there should be criteria around building local employment and skills as well.
Finally, the council should work with our business community to help small businesses build the capacity and capability to compete for publicly funded projects where possible. Of course there will be projects that we simply do not have access to local expertise to deliver – but we should be working towards this.
Our local government, our locally paid rates and our locally paid taxes should be directed where possible to supporting local businesses to deliver these key government services. As your local elected member for Division 5 I will seek a review and implementation of new and improved measures as described above.