Shot of a person using their laptop on Mount Wellington, with views of Hobart

We Start Small

Oct 30

Many of you spoke of a difficult time in Hobart, when large employers were leaving the island, consolidating, shrinking, or closing altogether. Many of you, or your parents, had imagined a “job for life” and the shift in the global economy had ruined these prospects here at home.

Understandably, governments focused on bringing that back somehow: luring large employers to Hobart to provide twenty or two hundred jobs or two thousand jobs. You spoke of these strategies, in interviews, with empathy but not a lot of hope.

A major source of your pride, in the new Hobart and the new Tasmania, comes from people starting something small — based on their passions — and building it here.

If you want to be in Melbourne or London, you will be. For some of you, Hobart is exactly what you’re looking for. You’re not here for the money. You are willing to take a pay cut to live here, willing to invent your own job.

Some of you attribute the new excitement and confidence in the air entirely to this new feeling of opportunity. The most visible entrepreneurs are in food and hospitality, in delightful new shops, but the rest of us have to earn enough money to afford those evenings out. Whether you’re an IT developer inventing a new sensor network or an artist inventing a new way to make hospital waiting rooms welcoming to children, you’re not necessarily looking at job ads. Instead, you’re thinking about how you can make it happen yourself.

You talked about how fast Internet, lower rent and cheap flights make it easy for “lone eagles,” the one or two-person businesses, to be based in Hobart. It seems there is a strong correlation between people who work in innovative technology and design companies and people who like the idea of a mountain experience fifteen minutes from the office.

Yes, they could be based anywhere. Their clients might be on the mainland or all over the world. But they love it here in Hobart. They’re foodies and mountain bikers and backyard gardeners, bushwalkers and surfers, who will do just about anything to be in a place just like this.

What are some small business “clusters” we could encourage in Hobart?