Western Australia's small business community is expanding and its growth is defying the general economic downturn.
These positive indications were revealed in the Small Business Development Corporation's annual report, tabled in State Parliament last week.
Small Business Minister Gordon Hill said the report was heartening.
He said it revealed that the number of people establishing their own businesses was continuing to rise in WA.
"The industries attracting the bulk of self-employment are those involving business and personal services," Mr Hill said.
"The report states that while the overall contribution of the small business sector to the WA labour force continues to grow, industry variations are evident.
"In particular, a concentration of growth has occurred in the recreation and tourism sectors."
Another area of small business which is gaining recognition as a growth industry is franchising. In June 1991, WA constituted 11 per cent of all franchise outlets in Australia.
"There is every indication that the pattern of gradual growth in franchise outlets in WA will continue or, quite possibly escalate," Mr Hill said.
During the past financial year, the SBDC had contact with some 50,000 individuals and small to medium business operators through their advisory, information and management education services.
Mr Hill added that the results of a confidential study of past clients to the SBDC's advisory service, conducted by an independent research firm and included in the annual report, found that the corporation helped more than 3,000 people to develop new businesses in 1991/92.
In addition, 35 per cent of advisory clients who had expanded their business claimed the SBDC had contributed to their decision.
"This equates to an estimated 2,700 small firms expanding and employing more Western Australians during 1991-92," Mr Hill said.
He said the vital role played by the SBDC in the WA business environment was also reflected in data showing that:
· 44 per cent of clients said the corporation's advice had improved their financial position;
· 28 per cent said it had led to an increase in turnover;
· 80 per cent claimed the SBDC had helped them make sound business decisions;
· 13 per cent said it had led to an increase in employment levels.
Mr Hill said that while the Perth metropolitan region accounted for the bulk of the SBDC's direct clients, the regional centres had a high level of response to the corporation's programs.
Copies of the 1992 SBDC Annual Report are available from the corporation by telephoning 220 0215.