Wollongong offers the lowest costs for professional service businesses and that paints an exciting picture for the future, according to Wollongong City Council economic development manager Mark Grimson.
Mr Grimson sites data from a recent survey that reveals Wollongong's CBD is set to rival Parramatta, Sydney CBD and Melbourne CBD as the newest magnet for talent and businesses operating in areas such as finance, accounting, HR, administration and IT.
The Wollongong Knowledge Service Capability Assessment Summary - Fifth Quadrant 2019 report assessed Wollongong's capability to attract and support the thriving professional services sector.
The survey of 37 businesses found the city to be a superior business location by outperforming competitor commercial hubs in not only lower operational costs, but also growth and staff turnover.
Mr Grimson said along with the city's lifestyle, Wollongong is an attractive hub for small and big businesses who could benefit from coming to the Illawarra as well as others already here and expanding.
"Today there is a range of professional services business from accounting and legal firms to IT companies that are servicing clients across Australia and internationally as well from there Wollongong base," he said.
"They are doing so very successfully growing as well at a fairly decent pace.
"The report highlighted among the businesses who were part of this that on average they were expecting to grow by 11 per cent over the next 12 months".
Mr Grimson said among the reasons so many businesses were doing do well was their access to a stable workforce.
"One of the key highlights in the report was the much lower staff turnover in Wollongong that was half the national average. Affordability and lifestyle contributes to that as well," he said.
Mr Grimson said a constant supply from the world class University of Wollongong graduates, and the ability to tap into the 23,000 highly talented and educated commuters were another reasons.
And that was not lost on Advantage Wollongong in its promotion of the city as an attractive place for new business to come and set up shop.
Mr Grimson said the professional services sector in Wollongong already accounts for more than 5,000 jobs. With businesses such as Easy Agile having to move after doubling in size during the last six months he said the employment growth was giving others confidence to invest in commercial property. That is what we are starting to see now".
"There are a lot of businesses today who do not need to be in the CBD of Sydney, Parramatta or Melbourne. Part of the ongoing work of Advantage Wollongong is to highlight the opportunities that exist in Wollongong and the ability there is to tap into those 23,000 people commuting each day as well as the university graduates".
Mr Grimson said the outlook for Wollongong was very exciting and positive for a number of reasons. They include;
- Employment growth is forecast at 11 per cent for the next 12 months.
- Wollongong CBD is presently home to over 26,000 jobs.
- There has been a 20 per cent increase in jobs since 2011.
- Wollongong has experienced a $1.4 billion in infrastructure investment since 2012.
- The city boasts 70,000 square meters of DA-approved commercial space.
Key report insights
- Wollongong is the least expensive location for businesses with the lowest salary, operation and real estate costs in comparison to Parramatta (28 per cent) Sydney CBD (33%) and Melbourne CBD (29 per cent);
- Contributing to the existing sector of over 5,000 local employees, of the organisations surveyed, each forecasted a growth of 11 per cent over the next 12 months;
- With a lower salary level and staff turnover rate of 8.0 per cent, half of the national average (19 per cent), Wollongong businesses have a savings of 69 per cent in the cost to replace front line staff compared with the Australian average*.
- The average length of time in business within the area is 22.1 years, indicating a commitment to the location for a long-term sustainable operation;
- The top areas of performance where Wollongong is excelling for current Professional Service centers include reliable tele-communications and data links, quality of life, an attractive labour rates/wage levels, lower staff attrition/turnover rates and proximity to key staff/management.
Wollongong City Council is part of the an Advantage Wollongong partnership involving the NSW Government and University of Wollongong that is seeking to attract new business to the city by working together to promote Wollongong and help interested businesses and investors.