How dark are the gathering economic clouds for regional NZ?

Luke Parker
How dark are the gathering economic clouds for regional NZ?

Small business in regional New Zealand looks innovative, progressive, and quite positive according to broadcaster and TV presenter Duncan Garner after his two week Grassroots Tour of the country.

SEE ALSO: Report: Kiwis losing confidence in job market

 

Kiwi SME pulse check

Travelling by car from Dunedin through to Auckland, the host of the RadioLive Drive show (3pm-6pm) spoke with mayors, local business people, influencers, and members of the public to tap the economic pulse of the country outside Auckland.

“I found that most small businesses have either done pretty well, or really well, off the back of the dairy boom. Remembering though the dairy boom is retrospective, so they’ve been living in the past,” he explained.

“If you compare us to the rest of the world, we have had a fantastic 2 years of growth which is quite a phenomenal success story. But how dark are the clouds on the horizon…that’s the question mark that’s being debated now.”

Duncan says a few areas really stuck out to him.

“The growth in north-eastern Hamilton, the growth in Tauranga, and the massive work and planning going on in Christchurch has been really impressive,” he said.

As part of the Grassroots Tour he has co-hosted four After 5 events with Westpac in Dunedin, Christchurch, New Plymouth, and Hamilton. The events were in support of the Westpac Business Growth Grants programme designed to provide a raft of consultancy services for 10 SMEs and a cash $40,000 investment for one lucky small business.

Duncan G Farm

Keeping the no. 8 wire mentality alive

The former TV3 political journalist says it’s important the great business ideas and Kiwi ingenuity continue to get the support they need to grow and expand, as there are lots of small businesses that could face tough times in the next year or so.

“They’re going to need flexible financing and an open door policy with their funders,” he said.

A co-ordinated regional approach from the Government could also be part of a proactive solution to boosting the regions.

“The Government needs to aggressively get in touch with the regions to make sure that there’s no decline, and that growth continues so there’s a real regional strategy that starts to develop,” he said.

“John Key had a job summit when he became Prime Minister. It could be bit of a talk fest but maybe something like a regional summit for the regions to get in front of central government and all the crucial businesses from these regions could get together and work out how they can share ideas and drive innovation.

“You never know, something positive might come out of it. It would be good to have a bit of a focus around this.”

SEE ALSO: Report: Kiwis losing confidence in job market

Duncan Garner’s 5 key findings

  1. People are proud of where they live and their town.

  2. The real impact of the dairy slump is yet to come and there’s quite a bit of nervousness for retailers and business in some of the smaller provincial areas about the impact and what it will mean.

  3. It’s pretty clear that some regions are doing better than others and overall there’s a lot of positive feeling.

  4. Some centres across the country have a quiet main street with a lot of empty shops. This is for all sorts of complex reasons, but the likes of Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker are working on a plan to turn this around.

  5. Whether or not the “rock star” economy is going to continue, or whether it was ever here for some towns, is debatable. There’s certainly a growing sense of caution.

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