Simone’s start-ups win PM praise

TARGETS of 100 Wagga Wagga start-ups by 2020 and the success of local entrepreneur Simone Eyles have taken a starring role in remarks from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Australia’s business leaders at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry dinner in Canberra overnight.

Local Nationals’ MP Michael McCormack, who is Australia’s Small Business Minister, said the success of Simone Eyles’ 365Cups coffee app and the recently-launched WorkingSpacesHQ project in Johnston Street were key examples cited by the Prime Minister in a wide-ranging speech on innovation and the future of the Australian economy.

“The Prime Minister understands that the future of innovation and new small businesses is not just in Sydney or Silicon Valley, it’s something we see in rural and regional Australia every day,” Mr McCormack said.

Speaking to business leaders, politicians and the national media, the Prime Minister praised Wagga Wagga’s start-up target.

“Every business—large, small, old or new—has a part to play in building a robust culture of entrepreneurship. Now the Minister for Small Business, Michael McCormack, who is here tonight, likes to remind us that his own electorate is leading the way, with Wagga Wagga and surrounds striving for 100 start-ups by 2020,” Mr Turnbull told the dinner, attended by hundreds.

“This is an idea driven by local entrepreneur, Simone Eyles. Simone’s 365Cups coffee app is a favourite of Michael’s he tells me because it enables him to order a coffee ahead of his arrival into town when he is travelling around the electorate. And, as he notes, when you’re covering an electorate the size of Switzerland, caffeine can be your best friend. But Simone has not been content with running a highly successful business with $7 million in revenue.

“Now Simone in Wagga has unearthed start-ups ranging from health and fitness and photography, to agricultural and food technology. We want all Australians right around the country to have the opportunity to do that. So that is why our National Innovation and Science Agenda is so broad ranging.”

Mr McCormack said the Riverina and Central West were key in his recent nationwide tour of small businesses.

“My most important role as Small Business Minister is to get out and about and listen to what our more than 2.1 million small businesses are saying,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack has travelled to every State and Territory with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its various counterparts in the three months since his appointment as the Minister.

“As the first country MP and member of The Nationals to be Australia’s Small Business Minister, rural and regional small businesses have been central to my focus. That’s why my first business chamber meetings were at Parkes and Forbes, followed by meeting NSW’s fastest-growing Chamber in Wagga Wagga, before I went across Australia,” Mr McCormack said.

“The passion of people such as Simone Eyles for the future of small business in regional Australia is just infectious, and she is most deserving of the Prime Minister’s praise last night.

“It is what inspires me to keep working on behalf of small business in the Federal Government.”

The Prime Minister’s full speech is available here:

Cristy Houghton