The Western Bay economic story has been one of growth over the past year Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt told attendees at the agency’s annual general meeting.
“The headline stats are very impressive with six percent GDP growth, and we’ve led New Zealand for five years in a row,” he said.
Tutt noted that it was significant that growth had been consistent across all sectors.
“We’d feel concerned if we only had growth in a couple of sectors, but that’s absolutely not the case,” he said.
“Our community is getting more sophisticated and we’re a popular destination for businesses.”
Tutt cited examples from Priority One’s latest business survey to illustrate the confidence in the region.
“What we see is businesses are really confident in themselves and in this region, as was the case last year,” he said. “Some of the business confidence problems you read about nationally don’t seem to be reflected in this area at all.”
He said that 71 percent of the several hundred survey respondents were expecting growth to continue and were planning to hire more people.
“People are very happy to be part of this economy. We’re an increasingly attractive place for people to bring their businesses. They love the mix of business and lifestyle you get from living in the Western Bay. They see the economy growing around them and they’re excited to be part of it.”
But Tutt noted there was still work to do, given Western Bay was a relatively small region and had some infrastructure challenges to deal with and was still lagging other parts of the country on income levels.
He also noted the strong investment community within the region, from early stage WNT Ventures and Enterprise Angels, to Oriens Capital and Craigs IP, providing a full range of capital to support companies.
“Our strategy around innovation is also progressing really well,” said Tutt.
“We want to encourage innovation – innovation helps create high value jobs, brings talent in, and makes us more resilient and technology-focused.”