Ernie Vaughn, Shane Freriechs, Scott Druett from Tannum Wholesale Nursery and Brendan Watts from BL Watts Transport are finding it hard to compete with big businesses in the region.
Ernie Vaughn, Shane Freriechs, Scott Druett from Tannum Wholesale Nursery and Brendan Watts from BL Watts Transport are finding it hard to compete with big businesses in the region. Chris Chan

Small businesses struggle to compete as big boys move in

A TANNUM Sands landscaper is worried his business of 15 years might go under if Gladstone fails to support small businesses.

Ernie Vaughan has been running Tannum Wholesale Nursery for almost two decades and has just started noticing a shift in demand for tradespeople in town.

"A lot of the bigger (residential development) companies have stopped giving contracts to the little guys," the 48-year-old said.

"They come into town and say they're 'as Gladstone as you are', but they're just as 'Brisbane as they want to be'."

On Tuesday the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce, with the Buy Local organisation and Gladstone Regional Council, listened to the concerns of a number small businesses in an organised forum in Tannum Sands.

Buy Local campaign manager Crystal McGregor said smaller businesses were intimidated when it came to competing with big industry.

"It was identified that there is a perception that Gladstone companies are not as good as their city counterparts," Ms McGregor said.

"Addressing this, businesses need to build consumer confidence that Gladstone can provide quality service and products."

Representatives from GAPDLand the Boyne Tannum Arts, Business and Community Association also attended.

Although Mr Vaughan doesn't have a problem with big industry players coming to town, he said more of a level playing field needed to be formed.

"In a few years we are going to be left with a shell of a town," he said.

"When the big companies pack up and go home, all the services we rely on won't be there."