A new Illawarra Business Chamber member survey showed businesses in the region want better transport connections to Sydney, improvements in skills and unemployment rates and greater local procurement from government agencies.
Around 160 respondents revealed how passionate they were about addressing the high unemployment rate.
They also want the benefits to businesses from faster transport links to Sydney.
Chamber chief executive Debra Murphy said there was a clear message that Illawarra businesses want the government to do more to reduce unemployment, cut red tape and increase local procurement.
"Ultimately, it is small businesses that create jobs, particularly in the Illawarra, and they are passionate about creating jobs and growing the local economy, there is a strong message from business that government needs to chip in and help to free up the red tape and use their buying power to give business that added boost," she said.
A recent NSW Business Chamber Business Conditions Survey also found that while businesses were increasingly positive about the overall performance of the NSW economy, they remained concerned about their own performance, particularly rising costs.
In the Illawarra, 46 per cent reported operating costs had increased over the last quarter of 2013, compared to 34 per cent across the state.
Ms Murphy said the business rates paid to Wollongong City Council was one example showing the high cost of doing business.