Light on horizon for small businesses as rents drop

THERE'S a spot of optimism on the horizon for small businesses in Gladstone with a drop in rents forecast to flow on to the fortunes of the region's smaller operators.

New figures from property analyst PRDNationwide show the median rental price in Gladstone has dropped by up to $120 a week, despite the busy jobs market.

It's music to the ears of small business owners, who have been battling to attract staff who could afford the skyrocketing cost of accommodation and living.

Gladstone Chamber of Commerce president Rick Hansen hopes the shift will provide a boost for small operators.

"The cost of housing and the cost of rent had gone through the roof, and the ability of people to earn the wages that small businesses are paying and then pay their rent and still survive has become much more difficult," Mr Hansen said.

"So consequently they've moved over (to Curtis Island) for jobs and for more money, or they've simply moved out of the region, which wasn't a great outcome."

He said attracting and retaining staff had been an ongoing issue, along with an influx of workers onto Curtis Island.

"It's been very difficult over the last two or so years when the construction was happening over on Curtis Island because a lot of the tradespeople working in town, plumbers and the like, were attracted to the bigger money on the island," Mr Hansen said.

He said small businesses in Gladstone had been doing what they could, such as offering prospective employees lifestyle packages, but small businesses were being squeezed on two sides.

"It's important to remember that small business has been weighed down by rents for their own businesses," Mr Hansen said.

"Employees having to pay high rent and losing those people is one thing, but employers have also been squeezed on commercial rents.

"I would hope that with rent coming down in Gladstone, that would flow on to commercial rents as well and smaller businesses are given relief on that front."

He also added that local small businesses were starting to benefit from a drawdown of work on Curtis Island, freeing up the potential recruitment pool.