Justine Elliot, Labor’s federal member for Richmond has made urgent representation to the minister for jobs and innovation, Senator Michaelia Cash regarding NORTECs termination of leases for the small businesses at their three small business incubator sites at Mullumbimby, Goonellabah and Byron Bay. She has also raised concerns over the sale of the Byron Bay and Goonellabah sites.
NORTEC is an employment and training provider that receives government funding to run projects including NEIS programs, small business support and numeracy and literacy access programs. They have recently closed all three incubator sites and have listed the Byron Bay site for sale. The Mullumbimby site is not owned by NORTEC.
‘These incubator sites were developed from a local commitment to business growth and innovation. I’m advised that they were handed to NORTEC in good faith with the understanding that they would be held in trust for the local community,’ said Ms Elliot in her letter to the minister.
‘I’ve been further advised that all these incubators were funded by a combination of community assets and funding from State and Federal Governments.’
Local entrepreneur and self-made millionaire George Lewin also contributed $125,000 towards both the Mullumbimby and the Goonellabah site during their development stages.
‘As you can appreciate there is widespread community concern firstly about the sudden closure of the business incubator sites and secondly that the government funded small incubator facilities are now being sold off,’ continued Elliot.
‘Can the Minister please urgently advise what action the Turnbull Government will be taking in terms of investigating the sale of these government funded sites and also what action the government will be taking to ensure the future provision of business incubator sites for our region.’