Government wants to do more business with SMEs

Regional Director, Paula Martin

Business NSW Central Coast has welcomed an invitation from the State Government for business owners, industry groups and members of the public to have their say on how to make it easier for regional businesses to sell goods and services to the Government.

Minister for Finance and Small Business, Damien Tudehope, said the consultation would assist the Government in a number of areas including the NSW Small Business Commissioner’s work to support small businesses in tendering for government work, a new $5M program announced in November as part of the NSW Budget.

Tudehope said the Government wanted to do more business with SMEs, particularly those from regional NSW.

“Small businesses are the economic backbone of local and regional communities,” he said.

“By giving business owners a hand up when it comes to contracting with Government, we are supporting jobs and families as we move towards a post pandemic economy.”

NSW Small Business Commissioner, Chris Lamont, said the feedback from the targeted survey would be used to develop resources and training to support small businesses and advocate for improvements in Government tendering processes.

“This tendering support service will provide guidance and increase capability for business owners to put their best foot forward when it comes to winning Government work,” he said.

The survey, in conjunction with a new discussion paper, will also help Government in its review of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) and Regional Procurement Policy, which was introduced two years ago to increase the share of goods and services that SMEs and regional businesses sell to the NSW Government.

In the 12 months since the policy commenced on February 1, 2019, spend with regional suppliers increased by 19.6 per cent, or $255M, while spend with SMEs increased by 3.8 per cent, or $337M from the previous year.

Business NSW Central Coast Regional Director, Paula Martin, said evolving the procurement system so that small business can have a go at supplying into large projects was a recommendation of Business NSW’s Back on Track Report.

“Government spend is critical to a post-COVID economic recovery,” she said.

“We want to ensure that local businesses have the opportunity to tender and win contracts that stimulate jobs and career paths for young people.

“The Central Coast is home to over 20,000 small businesses and being part of large projects is not just good for employment but also innovation.

“Whilst you normally associate procurement with construction projects, it can also be technology, health and professional services that are in need, sectors which are the fastest growing in the region.

“For too long small business hasn’t known how to access projects or struggled to meet the criteria to be a supplier to government.

“Effective tender writing is also a challenge for many business owners.

“Simplifying the application process and providing tools and resources to help small business apply and win contracts is a great start.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said small businesses make up 97.5 per cent of all businesses in NSW and should receive a greater share of existing Government spending.

“The NSW Government spends over $40B each year on construction and the procurement of goods and services,” he said.

“Nearly half of that already goes to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), but I want to ensure that Central Coast businesses are aware of all of the opportunities and receive support through the Government tendering process.”

Terry Collins