Council provides the recipe for foodie help

Tania Hubbard
Tania Hubbard

TANIA Hubbard was months away from shifting her award-winning and rapidly-expanding food business from the Sunshine Coast.

Council, and some key people within its economic development branch, changed her mind.

The Gluten Free Grain Free Company founder was all set to start searching for warehouse and distribution space in either Brisbane or Ipswich in February 2013, with plans to relocate permanently by June.

"There's a new focus from council now, they understand that it's not just the big boys at the big end of town that need attention and support," she said.

"I was really angry after being told by council at a meeting two years ago to 'come back when we had a $2.5 million turnover and more staff' because only then would council look at us seriously for any further help.

"But then there was a big cultural shift.

"I met (industry development manager) Anthony Dow. He lets us ask the hard questions. I can ring him anytime. He helps us navigate red tape and understand relationships.

"He also thinks outside the box, is really passionate and connects us to business opportunities.

"The Economic Development team is comprised of people with business backgrounds, and this has been a huge change in the way we are able to discuss and problem solve.

"Knowing the risks small business takes was an important step in the relationship council is now forging with us in small business. If you have never been in business - you don't know much about being in business.

"Council have also now made food one of its really important regional initiatives.

"They are certainly now engaged in processes that create the right environment for business growth and prosperity for the region. No doubt there is more to do but the intent seems clear - supporting a diverse economic base and small, innovative businesses.

"That changed everything for us."

Tania and husband Eric have just moved into new premises, an old doctor's surgery in Nambour's Howard St. They will spend almost $50,000 retrofitting as a food production and dispatch business.

She was particularly inspired by the Seasons of the Sun network of local food producers and the council's Business Ezy website.

The next two years will involve planning for the building of Australia's first "free from" (gluten, nuts, dairy, grain and soon, egg) manufacturing facility.

"We are experiencing good growth and increased profitability and have higher levels of export to interstate markets and overseas markets," she said.

"This region has the opportunity to become an entrepreneurial economy, one based on the experience, flexibility, expertise and innovation of people.

"Ensuring equal focus on the growth of new, small innovative businesses alongside big companies and routine businesses like call centres is what will keep businesses like ours here in the region."

The Hubbards' business has a staff of five but partners with 20 local businesses who supply ingredients like spices, coffee and produce.

Topics:  business regional council sunshine coast

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