What building slump?
EVEN in yesterday's constant drizzle, builder Tony Croft was hard at work putting the finishing touches on a new house in Ballina's Angel Beach Estate.
Despite a 6.2 per cent fall in building approvals across NSW during the three months to June, Mr Croft said the construction industry in Ballina remained robust – he is also about to put on two more carpenters to keep up with demand.
“We have always been busy and with this land release and another at Ferndale there is even more potential to grow,” said Mr Croft, a partner in the 30-year-old Ballina-based family business Croft Builders.
Mr Croft's positive outlook for the local construction industry is supported by the first Westpac Regional Sentiment Index of Ballina.
Ballina, along with Rockhampton, was selected as one of two regional centres to conduct the pilot surveys as both have diverse and vibrant small business sectors.
Based on a survey of 18 panellists, it said the sectors with the rosiest outlook were construction, followed by financial/business services, transport, accommodation and real estate.
Those likely to be constrained over the next six months are retail, vehicles and agriculture.
Mr Croft said while he wouldn't call the outlook for the construction industry ‘great, there is constant work'.
“We are about to enter a busy period in the lead-up to Christmas,” he said. “Many homeowners are choosing to renovate as opposed to moving house, and the tourism influx has a direct impact on real estate and construction sectors locally with December deadlines pushing things along.
“We have had a fair few inquiries for early next year so that is looking good too.”
Westpac's Ballina branch manager Steve Bowden said the results painted a generally positive picture for the town.
“Ballina's business community is extremely resilient and also optimistic,” he said.
“This translates to the business confidence where 66 per cent of survey participants indicate that local businesses are confident moving into the next six months.”
This, however, doesn't mean more jobs, with employment expected to remain stable.
Even so, businesses said there was a shortage of skilled staff in specific areas.
JOBS IN DEMAND
Junior staff in accommodation and food sector
People with experience in stockbroking/financial markets and instruments
Property valuers, property sales, quantity surveyors