Sunshine coast state member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson shares some of the reasons behind why there are so many entrepreneurs on the sunshine coast.

Why are there so many entrepreneurs on the Sunshine Coast?

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show our region has 22 per cent small business ownership compared to the national average of 15 per cent. Even the Gold Coast, with its image of bright lights and commerce by the sea, has lower business ownership levels at 19.7 per cent

Our beautiful region of surf, sand and gloriously green hinterland caught the eye of Captain Cook as he sailed by on his journey of discovery in May 1770.

The journey of discovery continues for the 330,498 people who call our region home or who come as visitors. It is estimated that an extra 195,000 people will live here by 2036. As well as our own market opportunities, we have neighbours such as Moreton Bay region (population 408,914), the Gold Coast (551,705) and the state’s capital, Brisbane, (population, 1.13 million). (All population figures: ABS 2013).

That is quite a market! Why wouldn’t you want to base yourself on the Sunshine Coast?

I would love us to be known as a leading region for lifestyle and health

More people are moving into the area, attracted by our beautiful natural environment and healthy lifestyle, the desire to work for themselves rather than a boss, and the need to create an income could attribute to the high levels of entrepreneurship and business ownership we are seeing here.

In short, people want a living, as well as lifestyle.

Whatever the reason for the high rate of business ownership on the Sunshine Coast, it is important that we grow viable, successful businesses so that people can continue to live, work and raise a family here.

Knowing our strategic advantages is part of that. I would love us to be known as a leading region for lifestyle and health.

Our new $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital is a significant game-changer in our regional economy. Not only will it employ 2500 additional hospital staff when it opens in April 2017, but there will be considerable flow-on effects of an investment of this size rippling through the economy. It will also be a strategic anchor for the Coast’s growing reputation as a centre for education, innovation, health and healthy living.

Our new $1.8 billion sunshine coast public university hospital is a significant game-changer in our regional economy

Already people are building new businesses to tap into this opportunity.

The Innovation Centre and its business incubator at the University of the Sunshine Coast have more case stories of local entrepreneurs equipping themselves to take good ideas and turn them into great businesses.

Even in the traditional areas of agriculture, there are smart businesses growing new jobs through value-added products such as Palmwoods’ Gourmet Gardens’ wonderful herbs in tubes. This fits our healthy lifestyle image.

Tell me what you think our region’s strategic strengths are. Share your stories of how to develop the opportunities and what challenges you face too. We need to shout out the successes, learn from what doesn’t work and celebrate those who are willing to take the risk and reach for a better future by creating businesses and growing jobs.

Watch the visualisation of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital Precinct