Three in four Cessnock businesses intend to expand or grow in the next two years, according to a new report by Cessnock City Council.
Results of council's Business Capability Study show 74 percent of local businesses plan to employ extra staff, expand their product or service range or upgrade their assets.
New businesses are generally optimistic about their future, and more than 70 percent of established businesses also said they are optimistic.
Council's acting economic development manager Rhiannon Stevens said the results of the report are really promising for the region and its future.
"It's this kind of optimism that attracts new people to live, work and start other businesses in the city," she said.
The report, which was developed under the Advance Cessnock City partnership, has been endorsed by council and will guide its economic development team to make the region a better place to do business in future.
The survey ran from July to September last year, with 713 surveys completed by businesses located within the Cessnock local government area.
"We need to have a range of information in understanding who our businesses are, what they do, how many they employ, their capacity and their constraints," Ms Stevens said.
"We will use the study as a lever to connect businesses with opportunities in response to their needs."
Half of the businesses surveyed said Cessnock City was a great place to do business due to loyalty and repeat business from within the community. Four out of five businesses surveyed were small or micro, meaning they employ 20 or less employees.
"Small and micro businesses have the greatest capacity to employ but we need to nurture them," Ms Stevens said.
"The study gives us the information we need to facilitate their growth."
The survey covered individual business needs, capacity and optimism, as well as the potential pain points to running a small business in regional Australia.
The data provided in the study will also enable the economic development team to contact businesses to provide more impactful training and development.
Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent said the information from local business owners and managers would allow governments at all levels to make smarter economic decisions.
"For successful economic development to occur, it's absolutely critical there is a comprehensive understanding of industry and businesses, along with their capacity and needs, which this study will provide," he said.
Council secured matched funding for the study under the Australian Government's Building Better Regions Fund Community Investment Stream.