Drought isn’t just hurting farmers, says business survey

Farms are at the forefront when it comes to feeling the effects of the drought, but a survey of local businesses found many feel it is harming the region's economy as well. Picture: Louie Douvis
Farms are at the forefront when it comes to feeling the effects of the drought, but a survey of local businesses found many feel it is harming the region's economy as well. Picture: Louie Douvis

The drought is having an impact on businesses on the South Coast and Southern Highlands, according to a recent survey.

And it wasn't just farmers feeling the pinch.

The NSW Business Chamber carried out a survey of 1000 businesses across the state.

The survey found 86.7 per cent of respondents in the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands felt the drought had negatively affected their business.

Among Illawarra businesses, that figure was 35.7 per cent, though 50 per cent of respondents did say the drought had weakened the local economy.

In the Illawarra 42 per cent of businesses felt their cash flow was down, compared to a massive 90 per cent in the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands.

“The chamber’s survey canvassed the experience of a diverse group of businesses across the state and in our region,” said Illawarra Business Chamber CEO Adam Zarth said.

“Retail, construction, professional services and accommodation are all sectors that are being affected, with agricultural and related industries clearly being the hardest and most directly impacted.”

Mr Zarth said the survey showed governments needed to provide assistance to communities dealing with these tough times.

And he said that assistance needed to go further than just those on farms.

“The impact on primary producers needs to be front of mind,” he said.

“However, the drought is also affecting regional businesses at all parts of the supply chain including retailers, manufacturers, construction, and tourism operators with revenue down across the board.”

For those regional businesses, the drought has been affecting cash flow.

Mr Zarth acknowledged the only “silver bullet" to solve the drought was rain, but suggested there were measures that could be put into place to help those businesses.

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