BOOST: A business confidence poll predicts economic growth in Lismore despite a wet start to the year.
BOOST: A business confidence poll predicts economic growth in Lismore despite a wet start to the year.

Keeping business confidence afloat

NORTHERN Rivers business leaders will be hoping a modest increase in business confidence was not swept away by the Australia Day weekend floods.

The latest Griffith University - Northern Star business confidence poll recorded a pre-deluge increase of 12% in positive views regarding the region's economic performance in the next quarter, with 60% of respondents also positive about the year ahead.

Griffith University pro-vice chancellor (Business) Professor Michael Powell said while this boost in overall business confidence was consistent with broad national trends, local confidence levels specifically regarding the performance of key sectors were less optimistic.

"It is a great pity that negative natural forces have come into play at a time when more confidence was starting to emerge, albeit marginal," Prof Powell said.

"Clearly the ultimate impacts of the floods on business will not be known for some time and it is hoped that any losses will be recovered soon and that business proprietors who have suffered receive meaningful support and assistance."

Neutral views dominated regarding confidence for most key business sectors during the next quarter.

However some marginal upturns in positive sentiments emerged with confidence boosts of 4% in rural industries, 2% in tourism and 2% in retail.

Northern Rivers NSW Business Chamber regional manager John Murray said that despite the floods it was gratifying to see an upturn in business confidence.

"The positive was that Grafton and Lismore councils saw the advantage of their flood mitigation schemes," he said. "We certainly dodged a bullet as far as protecting businesses in Grafton and Lismore from inundation.

"However it is still too early to tell if the floods will take the edge off these modest gains." Questioned on the importance of resumption of a rail service between Casino and Murwillumbah, 48% per cent of respondents viewed the service as important.



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