Weekend Sun column

Friday, June 5, 2015

It was pleasing to read last week in the National Business Review a special report on Tauranga and the level of growth and development happening in the Bay of Plenty.

Priority One, Tauranga’s economic development agency, says they have helped 25 companies relocate to the area, and they are currently talking to another 25. I think Tauranga is in a great place for businesses – it is large enough to have the skills-base required for staffing, but it also has amazing lifestyle opportunities that you can’t get in larger cities.

The retail sector is stronger than most other regions, and the level of construction activity is looking good as well. Consumer and business confidence is high, and the Bay of Plenty currently has the highest net percentage of people who think they are better off financially than last year.

While our region is often referred to as “the retirement capital of New Zealand”, the report noted that new figures show Tauranga is attracting a lot of young people and families.

Perhaps most importantly, the latest figures from Statistics NZ show that at 13 per cent, we have the highest levels of employment growth in New Zealand - well above the national average of 4 per cent. It also had the highest increase in regional economic activity last year at 4.8 per cent, outpacing both Auckland and Canterbury.

This is certainly the feeling I get when talking to constituents and businesses in Tauranga. That’s not to say we can’t do more, or that some people aren’t still doing it tough. We are always looking at what the Government can do to help support growth in the regions. The Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which was launched in May, identifies the opportunities for economic growth in the wider Bay of Plenty.

It notes that the region is well placed to grow across a range of sectors; from horticulture and forestry to tourism and aquaculture. I am looking forward to seeing these opportunities developed and realised over the coming years.