High rents hit Gladstone small businesses

SMALL businesses are struggling to cope with the cost of rent in Gladstone.

That is the word from business owners, many of whom say the cost of renting their premises has risen substantially.

Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rick Hansen agreed small businesses were grappling with higher rental costs.

The evidence is all anecdotal, but there seems to be general agreement that the cost of renting commercial space has risen significantly during Gladstone's boom.

"I have heard of several businesses that have struggled, or have had to seek alternative sites, as a result of the high cost of commercial rent, with some having to close their doors," Cr Hansen said.

The Observer has spoken to a number of business owners who have struggled to pay the rent.

No one is pretending the problem can be easily solved.

Raine & Horne Gladstone commercial sales and leasing manager Darryl Branthwaite said there was a range of factors at play.

"Over the past year or so, we have seen commercial rates rise here in Gladstone, but it's mostly driven, like all markets, by supply and demand," Mr Branthwaite said.

"We've noticed that in Rockhampton, while commercial leasing rates were lower 12 months ago, they too have risen.

"For those looking to build new facilities here in Gladstone, developing a commercial block can become an expensive project, and all those costs have to be passed on.

"All these things contribute to firstly, leasing becoming expensive, and secondly to the total amount invested, which many find difficult."

Cr Hansen agreed that market forces were the key driver, but said the chamber was concerned about the impact.

"The market will always dictate rental levels and this is a difficult issue for all small business owners," he said.

"We like to see small-to-medium business in this city flourish and offer a great diverse product at a reasonable price for their customers.

"This is just another impediment for small business."