Small businesses in Western Australia have faced more challenges than usual in recent months, dealing with issues such as changing employment conditions, supply chain interruptions and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of these obstacles, small business plays a vital role in the state’s economy and many business owners are finding new pathways to success.
According to David Eaton, Small Business Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer at the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC), local government authorities are playing an increasingly important role in supporting the small business sector.
“State and Federal Government authorities are continuing to explore a range of essential support measures for businesses - and it’s been fantastic to see business owners also supported by their local government through these times,” said Mr Eaton. “All levels of government can contribute to helping small businesses not only survive, but thrive.”
“We’ve found that local governments have a significant impact on the day-to-day operation of a small business and are well-placed to provide support after disruptive events such as natural disasters, major construction works or a pandemic.”
In 2016, the SBDC introduced a Small Business Friendly Local Governments (SBFLG) initiative. The program encourages local government authorities to sign the Small Business Friendly Local Governments Charter and commit to working with, and supporting, small businesses in their area.
“From the City of Albany down south to the Shire of Broome in our north, local government authorities across our state are continuing to get involved in this program,” said Mr Eaton.
“The local governments involved are offering a suite of tools and support, with the launch of ‘buy local’ campaigns, enhanced customer service, finding ways to reduce red tape and a range of other activities which can help small businesses.”
“As an example, we’ve seen the City of Canning collaborate with the Town of Victoria Park and the City of Gosnells to implement a WA-first Simplified Trading Permit which allows mobile food businesses to apply once, and trade across these three local government areas,” says Mr Eaton.
Local governments participating in the SBFLG initiative are eligible to apply to take part in the Small Business Friendly Approvals Program. This program is fully-funded by the State Government and designed to help improve local government efficiencies, reduce red tape for small businesses and build local economies.
As part of the program, the City of Stirling introduced its Application and Address Assistant (AAA) to streamline some processes for small business. “The City of Stirling won a Planning Institute Award for this initiative in 2020,” added Mr Eaton. ”Being small business friendly can lead to big wins for local businesses and can even have a positive impact on the local government authority itself.”
“Encouraging more local government authorities across WA to commit to being small business friendly has led to a range of valuable insights we can use to explore further areas for reform. We’ve identified that many local government authorities can continue to support small business with a business liaison service, improved communication, automated approvals and streamlined processes.”
To find out more, visit smallbusiness.wa.gov.au or call 133 140.