Small business is big business as far as the ACT economy is concerned, and is key to the territory’s future economic prosperity, the Canberra Business Chamber said today as it welcomed the Chief Minister’s Statement of Ambition.

“We congratulate the Chief Minister on the release of the Statement of Ambition,” said Chamber CEO Graham Catt. “The business community has been eagerly awaiting our government’s vision for the future as we emerge from the COVID19 pandemic.”

Despite the impact of Covid and natural disasters, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows the local business population grew by almost 1700 over the previous year and there were 31,499 actively trading businesses at the end of the last financial year. That growth was led by small businesses employing less than 20 people.

Mr Catt said “Canberra’s entrepreneurial spirit is strong. That’s the highest number of businesses ever in our city, and those businesses now provide around 64% of the ACT’s jobs. Our economic future lies in the private sector, and in effect, the ACT economy over time is becoming more and more reliant on small business for our job and wealth creation.”

But the ABS data shows that while the ACT had the highest rate of new business startups of any state or territory, it also had the highest rate of closures / exits. The 2020-2021 financial year saw over 5000 businesses start, but almost 3900 closed in the same year.

“That’s a lot of startups, but potentially a lot of unnecessary closures and a huge amount of lost money, energy and jobs. We need to get better at ensuring the long-term survival of businesses,” said Mr Catt. “Our economic priorities must include a focus on helping small businesses become bigger businesses, and we welcome the government’s commitment to supporting investment in this area.”

“We need to remove barriers to small business success and ensure that we understand and prepare for the risks ahead, like rapidly growing supply challenges and inflation. Our members will now be looking forward to hearing more details of policy initiatives and investments in the upcoming ACT budget.”


Media Contact: Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber T: 02 6247 4199 

 Editorial note: cited data is based on Australian Bureau of Statistics (2022), Counts of Australian Businesses, Including Entries and Exits, catalogue number 8165.0.