OPEN FOR BUSINESS: The Northern Rivers is the third highest centre for business ownership behind Sydney's Northern Beaches region and the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven region.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS: The Northern Rivers is the third highest centre for business ownership behind Sydney's Northern Beaches region and the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven region. PeopleImages

'Blow-ins' bring their businesses to the Northern Rivers

"THIS is quite an entrepreneurial community.”

Demographer Bernard Salt said he was impressed to discover the Northern Rivers was the third highest centre for business ownership behind Sydney's Northern Beaches region and the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven region.

Mr Salt said while the NSW state average for business ownership was 15 per cent and the Australian average at 14 per cent, more than 20 per cent of the Richmond-Tweed workforce identified they were the owner-managers of their own businesses.

While Mr Salt said a number of local small businesses had been created by residents who had been born or raised in the area, there was a large scope which had been created by "blow ins” who had brought their businesses with them.

"Having people leave the city and creating a business somewhere trendy is a very common thing in some areas, including the Northern Rivers,” Mr Salt said.

"You don't find people down shifting out of a city and becoming creative and entrepreneurial in the wheat belt. They do it where there is high levels of environmental amenity.”

Byron Bay tops the list of the local towns with the highest number of business owners, with an enormous 30 per cent, doubling the national and state average.

Ocean Shores and Mullumbimby trail behind on 29 and 28 per cent respectively, followed by another Byron Shire town South Golden Beach with 27 per cent.

Lennox Head boasts 25 per cent business ownership, followed by Pottsville with 19 per cent, Kyogle with 17 per cent and both Murwillumbah and Ballina with 16 per cent.

Alstonville and Evans Head both share the state average of 15 per cent, followed by Wollongbar on 13 per cent and Lismore with 12 per cent.

Casino rounds out the list with only 8 per cent business ownership.

Mr Salt said there was a certain type of area which lured business-building type people to create a business in that region.

"It's got to have the right climate, it's got to be green, undulating, pretty, and got to have social cache,” he said.

"The Northern Rivers is attractive to these entrepreneurial types because it has accessibility and there is a critical mass of creative people there already.”

NSW Business Chamber Northern Rivers regional manager Jane Laverty agreed with Mr Salt, and said when people made the decision to relocate to regional areas like the Northern Rivers they brought their entrepreneurial mindset with them.

"No-one in regional areas takes getting a job for granted because we just don't have the corporate and government employment infrastructure like our city counterparts do so setting up your own enterprise has become a more acceptable option over the past 10 years if you want to live in the regions,” Ms Laverty said.

She said the Northern Rivers had an advantage for business entrepreneurs.

"We have easy and affordable access to major cities with daily flights from Ballina Byron Gateway and Lismore Airports and we are fast becoming as technologically connected as the cities” she said.

"We have a track record of product innovation leadership that continues to inspire.”



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