ABOUT 200 business leaders who gathered to help launch the Lismore City Council's Business Retention and Expansion survey yesterday morning were told a joke doing the rounds on the internet.
According to the former chair of the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board, Lexie Hurford, it goes like this.
Three people had to cross a raging river. The first asked God for strength, and managed to swim, though almost drowned on the way. The second asked for strength and skill, and paddled a boat across, but almost capsized.
The third asked God for strength, skill and intelligence, and walked along the waters' edge to a bridge and crossed safely.
The moral, of course, is that with intelligence it is possible to reduce risk.
It is this sort of intelligence that the Lismore City Council's newly-appointed business facilitator, Mark Batten, wants to garner from the BRE survey to help local businesses expand and attract other companies to the area.
“Business is our primary economic driver in Lismore,” Mr Batten said. “But there is nodata or hard facts about who these businesses are, about what they do, how they do it, and where they see themselves headed.”
“If one of the council's main roles is to provide an environment for businesses to grow then we must have this vital basic information.”
Mr Batten said that following significant structural changes at the council to improve itsrelationship with the business community, the BRE was just the start of a ‘much wider project'.
“We want to set the groundwork and foundations for a sustainable economic and development strategy,” Mr Batten said.
He said surveys conducted in other areas had resulted in the identification of key business clusters which were able to achieve buying advantages, productivity growth and more business-to-business activity.
If this led every business to put on another half or one employee over the next couple of years, it would mean between 1500 and 3000 new jobs.
“That's real jobs. Real jobs here in this city and real jobs for our children,” Mr Batten said.
The survey, which will be sent to businesses, is also available on the Lismore council's website.