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Media Release

South Australia’s small business sector can drive economic prosperity

12 February 2015

For South Australia to grow, we need innovation and innovation comes from small business, says BankSA Chief Executive Nick Reade.

In today’s keynote address to the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce, Mr Reade will point to the backbone of South Australia’s economy – small and medium enterprises (SMEs), coupled with a strong financial system – as the cornerstone of future growth for the State.

“While many would argue that population growth, education or investment in infrastructure are key growth drivers for the economy, in reality it’s actually innovation that really powers growth” said Mr Reade.

“And we find that SMEs, unburdened by established hierarchies and red tape, are more willing and able to be innovative and entrepreneurial.”

With 90 per cent of South Australia’s economy driven by small businesses, Mr Reade argues that it’s incumbent on large organisations, like BankSA, to support a thriving small business sector.

With a recent BankSA survey revealing that 75% of households and 67% of small businesses believe big business should play a major role in helping to make South Australia more competitive, Mr Reade said the buck no longer stops with government to move the State forward.

“It’s time for businesses to step up and create partnerships across government, academia and the community to better support South Australia’s SME sector and ultimately drive economic growth,” he said.

And BankSA is putting money where its mouth is by remodelling its commercial bank to reflect an SME state, hiring a dozen new SME bankers and lending $1 billion to small to medium-sized businesses this year, with a view to making it possible for some firms that cannot self-finance to carry out projects that otherwise would not take place.

“And we’re hungry to lend more to SMEs,” said Mr Reade.

“No business, large or small, can flourish if South Australia doesn’t succeed,” he said.

“So a collective interest in supporting SMEs and growing the economic and social prosperity of this State is not just the right thing to do – it’s also good business.”