PANELLISTS: Terry Purcell, Grant Cooper and Mark Spearing speak about their experience in small business in Gladstone at the GAPDL luncheon.
PANELLISTS: Terry Purcell, Grant Cooper and Mark Spearing speak about their experience in small business in Gladstone at the GAPDL luncheon. Allen Winter

Businesses look at how to survive downturn

A DOWNTURN in demand for local products and services as the Curtis Island LNG construction phase winds down could spell trouble for local businesses, but small and medium enterprises in the Gladstone region say it's a time for creativity and renewal, not despair.

Owner of local business Essential Health and Safety Group, Brad Smith, said business was slowing down for most of his area, but it was an ideal time to be reflexive and move into new markets.

"It's an ideal time to shine," he said. "We need to think of new ways of doing old things."

For EHSG, an example is offering more of the workplace training they provide online so clients only need to attend practical sessions in person.

Gladstone marketing company Cooper McKenzie Marketing has worked with large clients, including QantasLink and Rio Tinto Alcan.

Director Grant Cooper said his company had experienced a bounce-back over the past few months which he thought was occurring in many small businesses in the region.

"I think we're on the up," he said. "We've been bouncing along in a subnormal situation for a few months now…it's turning."

Mr Cooper rejected the notion that Gladstone was in a 'boom and bust' cycle.

"It's a boom and reset, not a boom and bust," he said.

"There was always going to be a finite amount of business generated by LNG on Curtis Island…there's still work there, it's just that people need to see the opportunity and the challenge."

The announcement that P&O Cruises will from 2016 stop in Gladstone has buoyed hopes that tourism will fill part of the gap left by LNG construction on Curtis Island.

GAPDL CEO Glenn Churchill said a diversity of tourism opportunities lay ahead for Gladstone.

"We need to look at the diversity of it - industrial tourism, grey nomads, friends and family tourism," he said.



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