A more aggressive approach to bringing companies to Canberra, appealing to graduates and a transition period would soften the impact of cuts to thousands of public servant jobs after next month's federal election, say ACT business leaders.
Analysis of the latest federal government economic statement reveals 4000 jobs will go from the public service over the next 11 months, many in Canberra.
To counter the impact, the Chamber of Commerce will pursue the ACT government's diversification strategy outlined in April last year.
Chief executive Andrew Blyth said Swedish homeware retailer Ikea's interest in the ACT showed there was scope for drawing more people into the territory.
''I don't think we could put all our eggs in a retail-led recovery either,'' Mr Blyth said. ''We should argue that diversity approach should have taken place a long time ago. We might not be in the difficult position we find ourselves today.
''You are talking about these senior level public servants. They may have to leave Canberra to find work.''
On the upside, they would be highly skilled and attractive for firms relocating to the territory and in need of people adept at working with government departments.
Business conditions have declined since January, when the initial poll date was set. Public sector uncertainty has slowed commercial and residential property sectors for more than a year.
Osspacc Australia's Anton Van De Zandt, who collects data for the ACT property industry, said having 2500 properties for rent was phenomenal compared to the usual 1800 for rent.
Between 320 and 400 properties were being listed every week, including many new units, which drove down rents in Belconnen, for example, by up to $50 a week.
Mr Van De Zandt said 2100 homes and units were listed for sale. The figure had not changed for a year. Their number of days on the market, about three months, had not changed in the same period.
Real Estate Institute of Australia ACT spokesman Craig Bright said under an old superannuation scheme, thousands of public servants aged 54 and 11 months would be retiring in the next 18 months, helping natural attrition.
He said as long as the ACT was given a transition period, it could cope with post-election cuts.
Property Council of Australia ACT executive director Catherine Carter said market rents made new office developments uneconomic.
She said the ACT government's economic growth strategy needed to focus on the private sector and should appeal to graduates.
''We need to keep the best and brightest in our city, and for Canberra to become a magnet for capital and talent,'' Ms Carter said.
Hays recruitment business director Jim Roy said private sector employees kept trying for the higher paid public service sector, which traditionally offered longer tenure.
''It is particularly prevalent in administration, executive assistant roles, whether it's the secondary income earners, it still holds strong appeal for a number of people,'' Mr Roy said. ''There are always skill shortages nationally and locally within certain areas. It could be around engineering, executive assistants, as straight forward as it may sound. There's always demand, even policy writing.''