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Appeared in The Urban Developer 8 October 2020.

As Australian businesses plan for life beyond COVID, the office “hub and spoke” model is gaining traction.

Under this scenario, a business may retain a city office location, augment it with a regional satellite office and allow staff to work from home several days a week.

In fact, news media is consistently reporting that many Australians are now accustomed to their new flexible working arrangements and no longer think big careers and big businesses have to revolve around big cities.

The ongoing COVID restrictions have prompted increased curiosity about Queensland’s Sunshine Coast as a desirable place to live and work, not only because of its diverse and fast-growing economy, but because it is the location of Australia’s newest east coast submarine broadband cable.

Australian businesses increasingly need high-speed data to keep up with constantly-evolving business models—and with remote working here to stay, fibre connections are even more important.

The Sunshine Coast has the unique combination of attractive business conditions (commercial property is almost 50 per cent lower than Brisbane CBD, for example) and all the lifestyle desirability any Australian would want.

Other business benefits include:

Watch video: Give your business a boost of Vitamin SC (Sunshine Coast).

Fast data plus cyber-security

Attracting national and global attention, the 18 Tbps Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network is expected to provide businesses with faster data speeds, reduced risk and lower costs.

The cable will deliver the fastest data speed to Asia from the east coast of Australia and the second-fastest to the US, which means businesses across Queensland will have the capacity and speed to connect through direct cable paths to Hong Kong, Japan and Los Angeles.

The Sunshine Coast is also placed at the forefront of the cyber-security sector with the establishment of a cyber security node.

The node is part of a nation-wide network designed to fast-track the development of a globally competitive Australian cyber-security sector.

OneQode, the next-generation wireless network service provider, is the first business to commence operations out of Sunshine Coast Cable Landing Station with the goal of offering unparalleled speed to all Queenslanders.

An internationally-recognised data centre provider is expected to be announced soon, making the Sunshine Coast a true digital hub for Australia.

Diversified economy

More than $12.5 billion in infrastructure projects are currently underway on the Sunshine Coast, spanning aviation, clean technology, education, health, retail, transport and property.

A pre-Covid CBRE report entitled “Sunshine Coast—The Lifestyle market: Sun, Surf and Smart Business” stated that coast’s economic growth report was “changing the dynamics of the region from a tourist destination to a key business hub”.

Progress to a more diversified economy is “transforming the Sunshine Coast into a key economic centre where new commerce complements established industries”, according to the report.

Image: The Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network.

Satellite office advantage

According to Legion Property Advisory, “the Sunshine Coast market is one of the more affordable office markets compared to both state and interstate, with net face rents and capital values one of the most affordable on the east coast. These lower real estate costs are a major factor in attracting businesses”.

As a result, the region is a rising star: regarded as an ideal location for accommodating the “hub and spoke” model, including the new blended office and home working model.

As well as an emerging masterplanned city centre, the Sunshine Coast has room for all kinds of businesses to grow, with available commercial and residential land, commercial precincts and three major industrial parks.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella says Queensland real estate agents have seen a spike in interstate residential enquiries since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, particularly on the Sunshine Coast.

“The Sunshine Coast in particular is highly desirable for people looking for that golden combination of liveability and affordability,” she says.

Disruptors drawn to region

Sunshine Coast is home to disruptors like Youi, Auto & General, Get Wines Direct and Office HQ, with all of these organisations benefitting from the inspired workforce of more than 83,000 students across University of Sunshine Coast, two TAFE campuses and more than 100 registered training organisations.

Youi Insurance opened a purpose-built national headquarters on the Sunshine Coast in 2018 and general insurance disruptor Huddle opened a new call centre last year.

The high-speed cable project was a key driver in the decision by Huddle Insurance to bring its largest national presence to the Sunshine Coast.

Huddle founder and joint chief executive Jason Wilby said the project was “a real drawcard for our business, providing the ability to handle large volumes of data, reduce data risk and allow faster transactions”.

“On the Sunshine Coast, we’ve found an entrepreneurial community that rivals Sydney, and discovered people with brilliant minds and smart ways of working also want to work in environments like the Sunshine Coast,” Wilby said.

Sunshine Coast Council welcomes and supports the growth of local businesses and the establishment of new ones in the region.

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