When you sit and think about what it is that holds many of the towns and cities on the Mid North Coast together, the availability of jobs would have to sit high on that list.
Without jobs, all the obvious benefits of living here - easy to get around, more affordable land, nicer people compared to the big cities - all of that means little. I hate to say that, but it's a fact.
That's why I was stunned to find out recently, just how alone many of our small businesses are and how tough they do it. That's an issue because most jobs in our area, if not all of them outside of government, are created by smaller businesses. Around the country as a whole - small and medium sized businesses employ nearly 70% of all workers.
So why is it that this contribution is not recognised? There is some recognition sure, such as the awards run by the Local Chambers and NSW Businesses Chamber and even days like today (June 27) - which just happens to be the United Nations International Day of Small Business (or more officially Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day).
But there's not a lot in the way of substantive recognition - especially from government.
The truth of it is that the hardworking families that have taken a risk to set up a business and run it - are the unsung heroes that bind our community together. Not that many people know it or even applaud it.
Not so fun fact. Only 15% of small businesses report getting any help from government, compared to 57% for large businesses. Small business is the least assisted sector of the economy, according to the Australian Small Business Ombudsman.
Yet in addition to providing a job - a livelihood - for many local families, a lot of the 16,000 business in our area also involve themselves in community building activities. Take Two Tails Winery as an example - The 2018 Regional Small Business of the Year.
In addition to providing jobs for the local community, Two Tails Winery help build their community by generously sponsoring schools, local sporting teams and a number of community events.
And that's just one example. Businesses do these things not because they have to - but because they want to. They are passionate about their communities because they live and work in them - they get married, raise children - all of that.
With that in mind, it's essential that people are mindful of this contribution and demand that our political leaders do everything they can, to ensure our small and medium businesses thrive. Our community depends on it.
Regional Manager, Mid North Coast, NSW Business Chamber