The future of Tauranga business will be the hot topic at this afternoon’s Priority One summit as the region’s leading minds and business heavyweights meet to discuss the development of the region and its economy.
Western Bay of Plenty’s economic development agency Priority One is hosting the ‘Shaping Our Future’ conference at the TECT Arena at Baypark today where about 230 of the region’s civic and business leaders will meet to discuss the future of the region.
Priority One CEO Andrew Coker at the ’Shaping Our Future’ summit at the TECT Arena at Baypark today.
“It’s a chance to really look at our economy, which traditionally has been based on population growth and a strong focus on kiwifruit – so looking at options to build the depth of our economy,” says Priority One CEO Andrew Coker.
Andrew says the Western Bay of Plenty is more than just a retirement or holiday location and with world-class roading infrastructure, the country’s biggest and most efficient port, ultrafast broadband and waterfront development, there are many reasons for businesses to expand into the region.
“We have seen businesses moving back into the city centre, business confidence is building.”
A key focus of the summit will be identifying the gaps in the WBOP and looking at what should, and could, be here.
“We want to attract productive businesses, those that require talented and skilled people and can afford to pay them appropriately.
“If you look at our key sectors there is a strong food processing and bio-active sector, a strong IT sector, an increasing number of research-based businesses – including the new marine-based research field station in Sulphur Point.
“We are the best kept secret.”
From a business perspective, Andrew says one gap is the lack of a dedicated micro food biology lab to service the growing food processing sector.
He also says there needs to be the cultural and creative infrastructure in place to attract businesses into the area.
“The event is at the TECT Arena – a $42million sports and events centre – that is a step in the right direction into the investment and focus we need as a community to attract businesses and families into the region.”
When moving to the region people also need to consider the cost of living and Andrew says despite the continued rise in Auckland’s house market, Tauranga is becoming a competitive and affordable place to purchase property.
“In the past Tauranga has been closely linked to the prices in Auckland, but now we are finding we are very competitive in terms of residential property and availability of commercial office space.”
The development and move back to central city will also aid in attracting business to the region, says Andrew.
“In the past we have had a bleed in retail out to other parts of the WBOP - what we are seeing now is a turning of the tide.
“The waterfront development, Cooney Lees offices, Sharp Tudhope offices are both fully tenanted, there are two government agencies wanting to move into the city centre and seeking expressions of interest to developers.
“There are increased investment opportunities in the city centre.”
Andrew says despite Psa and Rena there is a real commitment to investing in the region.
Today a number of business leaders will talk about why they have moved to the region and identify current and future challenges and opportunities in business establishment, growth, investment and innovation.
“It’s hearing those stories, and understanding that we do have a business case.
“Businesses like Multifid - a South African design-based manufacturer. People don’t even realise that Zespri relocated here in 2002 from Auckland.”
After the conference, Priority One will look at ways to target new businesses and growth through the ‘Tauranga Business Case’ campaign, launched in December last year.
“We are working to communicate Tauranga’s competitive position in the form of a business case aimed at businesses considering expanding and moving here.”
This includes website and billboard advertising, media promotion and various national and international networking and promotion to attract business into the region.
Speakers today include University of Waikato’s Professor Chris Battershill, Port of Tauranga CEO Mark Cairns, Brett Hewlett from Comvita, Steve Wells from North Island Mussel Processor and Lain Jager from Zespri.