Admiration of entrepreneurial thinking at grassroots level.”

This is the cultural shift that Demographer Bernard Salt believes we need to embrace as a nation AND as a community if we want to be serious about achieving sustainability and growth.

I was one of 185 business leaders who were extremely fortunate to attend the Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce Luncheon today where Salt addressed demographic trends and predictions not only for Australia but for Port Macquarie and the Mid North Coast.

It was enthralling.

Salt kicked off the presentation with a nod to the progression of Port Macquarie since his last visit some 10-15 years ago. Excitingly he recognised that we have undergone a ‘youthification.’ I.e. our brand no longer sits aligned to ‘God’s Waiting Room’.

As a Gen X who worried about moving here 11 years ago because of that very reason – this is bloody music to my ears!

Salt’s impeccably compiled & succinctly presented data about our region’s demographics revealed positive trends were occurring. His facts and musings inferred that as a region we are ‘normalising’. We are becoming more representative of our fellow Australian cities and towns. We are embracing diversity in race, religion and age. This diversity will ultimately serve us well he reassured.

Yes! Diversity creates energy. It provides perspective and leads to intelligent solutions that will help us prosper both locally AND on a global scale.

But the truly inspiring line of Salt’s thoughts that I engaged with was his encouragement of all of us as individuals to lift ourselves out of our state of ‘complacent prosperity’.

Salt used a comparison of the top 10 companies in the US to the top 10 companies in Australia to illustrate our aspirations for entrepreneurs. He pointed out the type of organisation that had risen in the US e.g. Google, Facebook, Amazon etc. to the type that has risen here, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank. The message was clear.

And it certainly did not paint a picture of a country that admired and supported innovation.

Salt challenges us to reignite the fire in our bellies to compete on the global stage. To stop waiting for the Government (local, state, national) to do something about our entrepreneurial state of affairs and to lead a charge to success in our own right.

He implores us to drop the tall poppy syndrome that we have unfortunately built a reputation upon and to create a culture that nurtures entrepreneurialism.

He was met with rapturous applause at his suggestion that instead of always highlighting our sports people for public recognition, to instead recognise some of the extraordinary business people who have built incredible businesses in Australia and added tremendous impact to our economy.

At a local level he encourages us to continue with Business Awards and media stories around our local business heroes. These are the people who are building the businesses that create our future.

And the best recommendation of the day was when he suggested to approach growth in our local economy by encouraging all businesses to aim to employ just one extra person.

At this stage we have just over 6,300 businesses registered in our region. Imagine if everyone of us made the commitment to employ just one more person.

That’s 6,300 jobs right there.

I left that lunch feeling so excited about the future of Port Macquarie and the opportunities that we all now get to create for both ourselves and our region.

I for one will be looking for further ways to celebrate entrepreneurial thinking (and acting) and doing whatever I can do to support and nurture this. I hope this is something we all commit to from now.


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