Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio today (March 16) formalised Toowoomba Regional Council’s support for thousands of small businesses when he joined Queensland Small Business Commissioner Maree Adshead to sign the Small Business Friendly Councils charter.

Mayor Antonio said signing the charter underlined Council’s commitment to more than 15,700 small businesses and sole operators across the Region.

“Council is pleased to formalise its support for our Region’s small businesses by signing the charter, which is an initiative of the State Government’s Small Business commissioner,” Mayor Antonio said.

“The charter sets guidelines for councils to engage with, and further develop small businesses across our Region.

“Signing the charter is a great opportunity for Council to measure and celebrate how we can further contribute to helping small business achieve its goals, especially to service clients and create jobs.

“It might not be widely known that almost 98% of businesses registered in our Region are small businesses. Council has dealt with almost 900 local suppliers this financial year.

“Council, as one of the largest employers in the Region, is constantly looking at how we can engage and deal with our local businesses that are a vital part of our regional economy.

“In the 2019-20 financial year, Council’s commitment to spending locally reached a record $180 million, equating to 57% of expenditure, which was close to our 60% target.

“The local supplier spending this financial year (2020/21) to date is around $97 million or 49% of our expenditure.

“In addition, Council had no hesitation in enhancing our Procurement Policy in 2020 in order to offer local firms the best chance to do business with us. In January this year, Council made the changes permanent.

“This included significantly reducing our payment terms so that most are now processed within 14 days, allowing money to circulate sooner in the local economy.”

TRC Deputy Mayor and Finance and Business Strategy Committee chair Cr Geoff McDonald said Council was committed to dealing with local firms and suppliers through its Pandemic Response Investment program.

“As part of our 2020/21 Budget, Council devised a dedicated $50 million Pandemic Response Investment program that comprised 64 projects that are being accelerated to stimulate economic activity across the Toowoomba Region, across two financial years,” Cr McDonald said.

“Council has, and will continue, to invite local firms and suppliers to bid for work programs on essential infrastructure and facility upgrades across the region.

“Stimulating local employment is one of the most constructive and immediate ways Council can help revive and sustain our regional economy.

“At the same time, Council is conscious of a dramatic increase in demand for labour and supplies that has been generated by federal and state government home building incentives.

“We are scheduling future projects to ensure our local workforce can still bid for and deliver these works.

“Council designed this program of work to complement, not compete with, other private projects.

“As at January this year, we have spent around $8.7 million, with around $11 million in other commitments.

“This equates to 39% of the overall package. We’re on track to hit the 60% target we set for the overall program this financial year.

“Also, our local spending remains high, with 90% of all spending so far with local suppliers.

“Council appreciates the value of small businesses to their local communities and the wider regional economy.

“The initiatives in the charter offer us a best practice guide for developing and implementing projects in a growing economy.

“Council will continue to work with our Region’s Chambers of Commerce and Progress Associations to implement goals and achieve positive outcomes to help small businesses prosper.”

Toowoomba Regional Council joins the Ipswich, Scenic Rim, Gympie, Mackay and Whitsunday local authorities as signatories to the Small Business Friendly Councils charter.

Caption: Queensland Small Business Commissioner Maree Adshead and Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio sign the Small Business Friendly Councils charter.

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Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce president Harrison Humphries (back left), Chamber Treasurer Myf Rigby, Highfields and District Business Connections chairman Ray Hunt, Oakey Chamber of Commerce vice president David Cooper and Crows Nest Tourist & Progress Association president Paul O’Brien with Queensland Small Business Commissioner Maree Adshead and Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio at the charter signing.