Call for economic and community development program

A KEY small business group has called for a national program of "community and economic development" to power up ailing regional economies.

The call from the Council of Small Business of Australia follows a series of bad news for the manufacturing sector, a key industry driving regional towns.

COSBOA executive director Peter Strong said as small businesses employed about 49% of all Australians working in the private sector; it was time to focus on the sector to help support smaller communities.

"Communities will be profoundly affected by the closure of car manufacturers like Toyota; workers will be unemployed and businesses such as supermarkets, milk bars and smaller manufacturers will be hurt, but we can shift the focus towards positive, constructive activities aimed to rebuild the local area," he said.

"We need governments to make the big decisions, but also let the locals have an influence in their own economic futures."

Mr Strong said key drivers of economic growth - innovation and new jobs - would come "from the people who run small businesses".

"Our economy is not one single entity of big business. It is made up of hundreds of small economies built around communities and industry sectors.

"If these micro-economies are healthy then the national economy will also prosper," he said.

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