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Australia’s biggest ever small business festival has kicked off with more than 500 events set to take place across the state to celebrate Victoria’s vibrant small businesses and help them grow.

Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis today launched Victoria’s 12th annual Small Business Festival.

“The Small Business Festival is about helping small businesses help themselves –  giving them the tools and information they need to grow and to create new jobs for Victorians. I encourage every small business owner, manager, employee or anybody considering starting a small business to get along to the festival –  I’m sure you’ll get plenty out of it.”

Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis

The Festival will be bigger than ever before and give more businesses the information and inspiration they need to grow and create jobs.

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting the small business sector by lowering payroll tax, cutting red tape, driving reform to stop late payments and strengthening the Victorian Small Business Commission to help resolve disputes.

The festival will feature hundreds of events on topics ranging from social media, digital marketing and innovation to networking, business planning and financial management.

There will also be inspiring small business success stories from speakers including Winter Olympic gold medallist Lydia Lassila OAM, whose knee injury at the 2006 Olympics prompted her to develop a successful range of cold and heat packs for use during rehabilitation.

This year’s festival celebrates the diversity of Victoria’s small business sector with a ‘Women in Business’ week, as well as sessions on how local businesses can tap into international networks and access new markets.

Victoria has more than 556,000 small businesses that play a crucial role in our economy, contributing about a third of the state’s output in goods and services and generating almost half of all private sector jobs.

Victoria’s small business sector continues to grow at a rate faster than any other Australian state and in 2016 grew by 2.8 per cent with more than 15,300 new small businesses created.

The team from Small Biz Fest 2017

Small businesses play a crucial role in regional economies and this year’s festival will feature more events than ever in the regions including Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Gippsland, Shepparton, Mildura, North East Victoria, Great South Coast, Western Southern Mallee and Western and Central Victoria.

Mark Gepp MP officially launches the Shepparton events of the Small Biz Fest

For more information on the events at this year’s festival and how you can get involved go to festival.business.vic.gov.au.