Starting & growing your business

Cairns Regional Council is committed to supporting local businesses. When starting or expanding a business, information and advice at the early stages is critical. Below are links to resources available to you from across government and other agencies.

Getting started

  • Register a business at the Australian Government's Business Registration Service.
  • Advance Queensland helps entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers turn their ideas into commercial success.
  • The Entrepreneurs' Programme is the Australian Government’s flagship initiative for business competitiveness and productivity.
  • Y(E)P is a service with the objective of encouraging entrepreneurship and in the Cairns and surrounding region.
  • New Business Assistance with NEIS provides personalised support to help you become a self-employed business owner.

Support to grow

  • Queensland Government Business Portal provides information, support and tools for Queensland business owners and industry sectors.
  • is the Australian Government's online business portal offering advice on grants and assistance, programs to help businesses innovate, grow and succeed, business establishment and compliance, skills and training and a range of useful templates.
  • Cairns Manufacturing Hub has been established by the Queensland Government to provide a place for local manufacturing businesses to receive expert advice and support to transition to advanced manufacturing through world-leading technologies. The Hub is located at the TAFE Queensland campus. Its focus areas are marine, aviation and food manufacturing.
  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries: The One-Stop Service has been designed to facilitate private sector sustainable agriculture development and investment in Queensland, including in new businesses, diversification or intensification of existing, or related supply chain projects.
  • The TNQ Small Business Development Program can provide business support through workshops, one on one mentoring and industry networking opportunities.
  • Business Queensland guide to using the digital economy to grow your business, customer base and access new markets.

Business networks

Cairns Regional Council works with the following local business organisations who can provide information, resources and support to local businesses.

Industry groups

Cairns Regional Council is committed to supporting local industry groups. Below are links to leading agencies and industries in the region, providing key resources in economic, tourism, aviation, marine, education and agricultural sectors.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) is the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) for Tropical North Queensland and Cairns & Great Barrier Reef.  TTNQ are responsible for promoting Tropical North Queensland as a travel destination around the world.

The region includes Palm Cove and the beaches, Port Douglas and Daintree, Kuranda and the Atherton Tablelands, Mission Beach and the Cassowary Coast, Cape York and the Gulf Savannah.

Study Cairns

Study Cairns is a collaborative international education and training network and marketing cluster in the Cairns region, showcasing the quality and range of study options available. It represents organisations, institutions and businesses in Cairns that are dedicated to providing help and support to students in the region.


Superyacht Group

The Superyacht Group Great Barrier Reef Inc. established in 1999 and incorporated in 2001.  The group’s principal aims have been to promote Cairns as a Superyacht destination for cruising, refit and maintenance, training and charter.  Membership of the SYGGBR includes marine trades, engineering, electronics, electrical, stainless steel fabricators, metal workers, shipwrights, upholsterers, food service providers and others.


Ignite FNQ

Ignite FNQ, supported by Advance Queensland, represents Far North Queensland under the Advanced Regional Innovation Program. The program was created by the Queensland Government in 2017 to encourage innovation across Queensland and support regional economies to create jobs.

Tradelinked Cairns

Tradelinked Cairns & PNG

Tradelinked is about building on the existing relationships between Cairns and PNG to mutually benefit both business and communities.  Cairns and PNG are ideally positioned to be trade partners with strong economic, social and cultural links with the respective Chambers of Commerce working cooperatively and productively.
Cairns is becoming an established base for large PNG mining projects, with frequent air services allowing business operators and mine workers to comfortably commute.

Taste Paradise

Taste Paradise

Taste Paradise promotes Tropical North Queensland regional food. A not-for-profit, volunteer organisation run by the people who produce the food – farmers, the value-adders, the chefs and the businesses that care passionately about bringing to you the abundant, unique and delicious produce from the north tropical region of Australia.

Trade and investment

Sustainability in business

Sustainability in business involves striving for profitability while delivering on the triple bottom line - a measure of sustainability that includes financial, social and environmental performance.

This provides savings pathways, strengthens the local economy and can help competitively position your businesses in a changing market demanding sustainable goods and services.


For more information on energy management, water reduction and recycling, sustainable procurement, sustainable events and sustainability standards head to Council's Ecologic page.


EcoBiz is delivered by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland and is funded by the Queensland Government. For information about a fully subsidized program featuring online management tools, webinars and coaching to save on energy, water and waste in your business, head to the CCIQ ecoBiz website.

Business Queensland

For specific information on meeting your environmental obligations and for codes of practice, head to the Queensland Government's Business Queensland website.

Useful Council links

The following links on Council's website provide information, resources and support to local businesses.

Indigenous business

  • Black Business Finder (BBF) is an online database established to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses an opportunity to be involved and benefit from the rapidly expanding major project program currently under way in Queensland.
  • Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) serves, partners and invests with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to assist in achieving financial success and economic independence. Support is provided for starting or growing a business.

Funding support

Council’s Industry and Economic Development Fund (IEDF) Grant provides financial and in kind assistance to not-for-profit organisations in support of specific industry and economic development activities which support the economic goal of creating a strong, diversified and resilient regional economy that supports the growth of new and existing industry, business activities and provides long term employment opportunities.

For more details about the grant, including eligibility requirements, refer to the IEDF grant policy ( PDF, 0.03 MB ).

CCIQ's Definitive Guide to Starting a Small Business

CCIQ's Definitive Guide to Starting a Small Business   ( PDF, 1.62 MB ) aims to give you the heads-up on what you need to begin and grow a business in Queensland.  It will assist you with where to start with:

  • Legislative requirements
  • Structuring your Business
  • Business Planning
  • Registering your Business
  • Insurance, Finance/Accounting
  • Record keeping
  • Marketing and Branding
  • Working online
  • Employing Staff
  • Taking your first steps as a business owner.

Start-ups and entrepreneurs

The following agencies provide services and information to support new businesses.

Urban Spaces
  • Urban Spaces is a Cairns Regional Council facilitated program that matches start-up businesses, social-enterprises and creative industry professionals with vacant commercial premises across the Cairns region.
Advance Queensland
  • Advance Queensland  is a comprehensive suite of programs designed to create the knowledge-based jobs of the future, drive productivity improvements and build on our natural advantages. It aims to help position Queensland as an attractive investment destination with a strong innovation and entrepreneurial culture.
Entrepreneurs' Programme
  • Part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Entrepreneurs' Programme supports business competitiveness and productivity at the firm level.
  • The Australian Government's online business portal offers advice on grants and assistance, programs to help businesses innovate, grow and succeed, business establishment and compliance, skills and training and a range of useful templates.

Small business assistance

Business Queensland

The Queensland Government's Business and Industry Portal features useful interactive tools,  information and support to make doing business with government faster and easier,  saving you time and money.

  • Starting a business: before you start, options, licensing, planning, legals, research, premises, suppliers
  • Running a business: money, sales, marketing, service, design, technology, tendering, risk, recovery, environment
  • Growing a business: ways to grow, rapid growth, mentoring, trends, tips, innovation, R&D, NPD, new customers, exporting
  • Support, tools, grants, services
  • Employing people: taking on staff, employee rights, payroll tax, managing staff, developing staff, ending employment
  • Exiting a business: ways to exit, closing, selling, valuing, succession planning

Funding support

Council considers funding support to Industry Sectors that stimulate significant economic and community benefit, strengthen and diversify the region's industry base.

Contact Economic Development for further information:

TNQ Small Business Development Program

Tourism Tropical North Queensland's TNQ Small Business Development Program can provide business support through workshops, one on one mentoring and industry networking opportunities.  The program is for business or business intenders with less than 20 staff who derive a significant portion of revenue from tourists or operate in a tourism related industry.  Funded by the Small Business Advisory Services - Northern Australia Tourism Initiative, an Australian Government Initiative.

New Business assistance with New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS)

Individuals not in employment, education or training who are interested in running their own business may be eligible for New Business Assistance with NEIS. New Business Assistance can help by providing:

  • Accredited small business training;
  • Personalised mentoring and support from a NEIS provider in the first year of the new business to help the individual put their business idea into practice; and
  • NEIS Allowance for up to 39 weeks and NEIS Rental Assistance for up to 26 weeks (if eligible).

Asialink Business

The Asialink Business Country Starter Packs provide comprehensive guides to key Asian markets, helping Australian businesses looking to establish or expand their operations in Asia to develop their Asia capabilities.  Each pack includes valuable information on market opportunities and risks for Australian businesses, as well as in-depth case studies.

For more information and information packs on China, India, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Veitnam, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong visit the Asialink Business website.

Black Business Finder

Black Business Finder (BBF) is an online database established to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses a platform that can be assessed by government or businesses looking to source goods and services from Indigenous suppliers.

Business regulations

Council regulates many business activities including food and dining, accommodation, personal services, advertising, commercial filming and busking. Visit our business regulations page for more information.

Sustainability in business

  • Council's ECOlogic program supports Cairns businesses to capitalise on sustainability as an opportunity.
  • Council offers a range of waste services to support business needs and recycling in the workplace.

Procurement and tenders

Council's Capital Works Program amounts to $169 million for the 2017-18 financial year. Council advertises tenders, expressions of interest and requests for quotations in The Weekend Post and on our tenders webpage.


The nbn™ network is Australia’s new landline phone and internet network, designed to support future economic and social growth. nbn co limited (nbn) is the government business entity responsible for providing wholesale services to landline phone companies and internet service providers who offer nbn plans for homes and businesses. To find out how the nbn™ network can benefit your business and how to move your services over to the nbn™ network, visit the nbn website.

Last updated: 16 June 2020