The Northern Star

Council lends local businesses a helping hand

IF YOU have been thinking about expanding your business, or have plans to relocate a business, then the staff at Lismore City Council's Economic Development Unit (EDU) would love to help.

They offer a service specially designed for business people wanting to expand or locate their business in the Lismore Local Government Area.

Ruth Povall, Lois Kelley and consultant planner Warren Rackham offer a free and confidential advisory service that can save time, money and headaches.

"We can pull the property file, look at the particular property they are looking at - whether it's leasing it or buying it - and we can look at whether that property is absolutely suited for what they want to do, for their desired activity," Ms Povall said.

The EDU can also advise on zonings and building constraints and give advice about the pros and cons of different locations.

"We also look at how people will know the business is there - look at a marketing plan, operational matters, what staff they need and how they will be trained - maybe TAFE or the university could help," Ms Povall said. "We also look at finances; is the proposal financially sound? If someone wants to start a coffee shop and they're taking out a $150,000 loan, we'll point out that's an awful lot of coffees they're going to have to sell."

Ms Kelley said the unit offered access to a range of statistics on industries. She said the EDU was not for someone wanting to start a one-person business - the best place to go for advice there was the Business Enterprise Centre - but for people with the skills wanting to start a medium-sized business.

"We have the knowledge and information to help crystallise their plans. If someone comes in and says, 'I want to open an eco lodge here', then we can say, 'Well, there are already 20 eco lodges in that place and they're only getting 20 per cent occupancy. Have you thought about building five-star accommodation of which there's a real shortage?'" she explained.

Ms Kelley said because they knew the market well and were in close touch with both the Chamber of Commerce and council, they were aware of what was coming up.

"Information is power and success in many cases," she said.

Ms Povall said the EDU was offering a service to people before they lodged their development applications.

"If we've done our job well, then the person can lodge the DA and it will all go through smoothly," she said.

As these women say, they work in the field of dreams. To make an appointment, phone 6626 2000.

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