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Five Minutes With…Verena Coombe

Five Minutes With…Verena Coombe

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Former Townsville City Councillor and current Chairwoman of the Queensland Small Business Recovery Advisory Council, Verena Coombe, has recently been appointed General Manager at Townsville Business Development Centre (TBDC), where she is helping small businesses in North Queensland grow and succeed in today’s new and challenging climate. We sat down with her to learn more about her new role and how she is working towards strengthening the resilience of our regional economy.                

1. What are you most excited about in your new role as General Manager at Townsville Business Development Centre? 

Working with business owners through their ups and downs, seeing them build resilience, grow their skills and confidence, and watch them provide employment for others in the region is what excites me. Most business owners have a spark of passion that launched their business. I am inspired by those people who back themselves and put it all on the line to follow their passion. The opportunity to support our small businesses and help our start up community kick goals is pretty awesome! 

2. How has your former role as a Townsville City Councilor assisted you in your current position as the General Manager at TBDC?

Sitting in the hot seat is an experience that I wish everyone could have!

My role as Chair of the Governance and Finance Committee was particularly valuable, however the role that took me deeper into the needs of the local business community was as Chair of the Economic Recovery Taskforce which resulted from the Monsoon event in 2019. That taskforce was a collaboration of many Government Departments, agencies and peak bodies charged with navigating the city’s path to economic recovery. 

The Taskforce has many achievements including hosting insurance round tables to ensure that local builders and trades were being engaged, advocating for an increase in grant funding for small business and advocating for $10M disaster recovery funding of the Small Business and Industry Support package funded 50:50 by the Federal and State Governments.

3. As the Chairwoman of the Queensland Small Business Recovery Advisory Council, how does it feel to be representing the voice of small businesses in Townsville and ultimately working towards strengthening the resilience of the regional economy? 

While the recovery process for small businesses post a natural disaster can appear to be over once the clean-up happens, that is far from the actual reality. It can take many months and even years for business owners to recover physically, emotionally, mentally & financially. The work of the Queensland Small Business Recovery Advisory Council began in mid-2019 and extends through to December 2021.   

“We also need to remember that small businesses are the backbone of our community.”

The work of this Advisory Council has focused on guiding investment into projects across 14 Local Government Areas that will build the resilience of small businesses in the region. The members of the QSBRAC deserve a huge pat on the back. The Council faced many challenges, especially having a pandemic in the middle of the recovery! All the Advisory Council members have been driven to leave a legacy to ensure that when we experience the next disaster small business will be more prepared and resilient.

4. Why is it important for small businesses to be the leading voice in the economic recovery of Townsville? 

Small businesses are the engine room of the Queensland economy, making up 97% of businesses and employing almost a million people. They contribute around $120 billion per year to the Queensland economy and small business employs people across every sector. 

We also need to remember that small businesses are the backbone of our community. While they are constantly challenged by disasters, economic conditions, or pandemics they continue to stand by our community and provide much needed support for our sporting clubs, arts organisations and charities when it’s needed the most.

5. What advice do you have for small businesses who are still feeling the economic effects of COVID-19?

The main message is to reach out for help. Both State and Federal Governments have provided support for Business mentoring as well as business grants.  Call TBDC and make a time to have a chat, free of cost and obligation.

Another way TBDC are supporting Small Business is through our recently launched Speakers Series called Love My Business.  We have 3 speakers on one topic over one hour, followed by lunch and networking.

Our upcoming Love My Business events are:

  • 18 May “Better safe than… – cyber security for small business”.
  • 27 May “There’s no business, like show business.”
  • 15 June “Pitch Perfect – getting your message right.” 

These are FREE for members and membership is only $99 annually.

Click here to get in touch with TBDC and see how they can help.

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