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SOLDIERING ON: Gracemere Hotel director Gavin Pitts serves takeaway meals which are available for pick up or delivery. The bottle shop is also operating. Photo Jann Houley.
SOLDIERING ON: Gracemere Hotel director Gavin Pitts serves takeaway meals which are available for pick up or delivery. The bottle shop is also operating. Photo Jann Houley.

CQ businesses hurt but some bright signs

WHILE job vacancy numbers are predictably down due to the coronavirus crisis, Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast are seemingly faring better than many other CQ centres.

Over the seven days to Sunday, Rocky and the Cap Coast collectively recorded the lowest drop among the major centres in advertised positions on the Seek.com website.

On March 22 there were 620 jobs listed for Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast, and seven days later that figure had fallen to 519 (-16.29 per cent).

Emerald experienced a similar fall, with its numbers down from 259 to 215 (-16.98 per cent).

But the biggest shifts came at Mackay and Gladstone with the latter hardest hit.

In Mackay, the number of advertised jobs dropped from 1155 to 798 (-30.90 per cent) while Gladstone felt a whopping 50.97 per cent reduction from 512 positions to 251.

Even though those Rocky and Cap Coast job vacancy figures are somewhat positive, Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll said there was no sugar-coating the current ­situation.

"We have seen thousands of job losses in Central Queensland and we have seen millions of dollars in revenue lost," she said.

"The biggest employers in the country are small to medium enterprises, and they are the ones that are hurting.

"The tourism sector, which includes accommodation, tours and transport, and retail, have been hit incredibly hard.

"They are suffering.

"They are grateful for the government assistance, both at Federal and State level.

"But I'm collating some quite sobering information at the moment, and I'll get that out once I've finished it."

Capricorn Enterprise created a "Support Local, Buy Local" Facebook page just over a week ago and it has already got more than 4400 members.

Ms Carroll has also been promoting local businesses which are open, on her personal Facebook page.

Those aren't the only positive messages she is trying to deliver in these most uncertain times.

"The CQ region has got $3.6 billion of major projects which we have often talked about," Ms Carroll said.

"Because those projects are State and Federal Government projects, they are moving ahead."

Ms Carroll said international engineering firm Laing O'Rourke was continuing to deliver the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI) Facilities Project at Shoalwater Bay, calling for expressions of interest from local businesses that could contribute to the project.

"The project, which involves constructing new and upgrading existing facilities and infrastructure at Shoalwater Bay Training Area north or Rockhampton, will support training activities of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)," she said.

"In the current environment, Laing O'Rourke along with many other regional major project managers have recognised more than ever that local suppliers are going to become further integral to ­successful outcomes of project delivery.

"While many businesses are bidding farewell to staff and closing their doors for potentially the next six months, our region's key major projects continue to power forward, providing opportunities for both business and employment."

Like Ms Carroll, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke has been helping to promote local businesses which continue to trade through the coronavirus pandemic.

He has also been using his Facebook page to urge Central Queenslanders to buy local wherever possible.

"Right from the word go it was so important that we got out there and supported our local small businesses," Mr O'Rourke said.

"Now, more than ever, if you are in a position to buy lunch or dinner occasionally at our local businesses that are trading, I'd encourage you to do so. That will help to keep our jobs ticking over in this industry."



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