TOP TOWN: Mullumbimby boasts an average of 28 per cent of the local workforce who owns their own businesses.
TOP TOWN: Mullumbimby boasts an average of 28 per cent of the local workforce who owns their own businesses. Marc Stapelberg

Which town has the highest number of small business owners?

DRILLING down on the high number of entrepreneurs on the Northern Rivers, demographer Bernard Salt found an interesting sub story.

Our region has the third highest centre for business ownership behind Sydney's Northern Beaches region and the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven.

While that is an impressive statistic on its own, demographer Bernard Salt said he was startled to see the top four towns with the highest percentage of locally-owned small businesses were all in Byron Shire.

"There is clearly something special about Byron,” he said.

Mr Salt said Byron Bay topped the list with a massive 30 per cent of the local workforce being owners of their own businesses.

This doubles the NSW state average of 15 per cent, and the national average of 14 per cent.

Byron Shire towns Ocean Shores, Mullumbimby and South Golden Beach all follow close behind with averages of 29, 28 and 27 per cent respectively.

Mr Salt said he believed many of the businesses were the result of people moving to the region for the lifestyle, and bringing their expertise and businesses with them.

"Now if I was retiring, I'd go to Byron or Bangalow and buy acreage. Set up there and run my consulting business overlooking the water, or the green valley or whatever, because that's what seems to be happening,” he said.

"Byron Shire is very, very popular and is growing faster than the Australian average - it's quite a centre, for that type of lifestyle I would imagine.”

NSW Business Chamber Northern Rivers regional manager Jane Laverty said she was unsurprised by the statistics, and said as a region the Northern Rivers had "significant attributes that provide a great fit for the creative sector and businesses that link their brand to our region's natural assets”.

"The past data trend certainly underpins a long held belief that the Byron Shire is an entrepreneurial hub,” she said.

"However we are expecting this to broaden across the whole of the region in Ballina, Lismore and Kyogle.”