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Business growth strong but housing market cools

27 April 2005

Manukau economy: business growth strong but housing market cools

Manukau's economy continues to expand at a fast rate but, in line with a nationwide trend, the housing market is slowing. The city's economic growth rate for the 2004 year was 5.8%, compared with the national rate of 4.6%. The latest growth figures are contained in a report to Manukau City Council's economic development committee.

The immigration slowdown has led to a fall in the number of migrants settling in Manukau and lower demand for new housing. There has been a drop of two thirds in the net migration numbers. In the year to January the figure was 11,140 compared with over 30,000 in the previous year.

However the demand from the business sector for land and new buildings remains strong and the Council granted 61% more non-residential building consents in the first quarter of the year. The projects include school construction, the women's prison in Manurewa and continued infrastructural investment by Auckland International Airport in Mangere.

Also approved is a $10 million dollar warehouse to be built in Highbrook, a $1 billion business park currently being developed on the Waiouru peninsula in East Tamaki. The earthworks and construction activity beside the nearby southern motorway are for the new on/off ramp which will facilitate easy access to and from the peninsula.

Another large project recently given approval was for a $40 million building for Fisher & Paykel in East Tamaki.

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis says one of the benefits of expanding numbers of new businesses is jobs. "And we need them in large numbers because Manukau continues to be the fastest growing large city in the country, with a very young population. Thousands of new jobs are needed each year to provide employment for the more than 5000 people who enter the employment market, most of them young people leaving school or university. That is why the Council makes it a priority to try to develop our economy and attract new businesses."

He says the number of new company start-ups shows the city is very attractive to many types of industries, with many advantages such as available land and proximity to the airport. "But we are now looking beyond just New Zealand companies and positioning ourselves in the global marketplace.

"We want more international companies to move here, such as Jack Link's, the American food company which created hundreds of new jobs when it opened a plant in Mangere.

"However in particular we want more knowledge-based businesses, in areas such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. These are high-growth sectors of the future and we must work hard to attract these specialized businesses against stiff competition from other cities in New Zealand and around the Asia Pacific basin."

Sir Barry is currently at an international conference in Toronto, Canada, to sell the benefits of Manukau. He is one of 3000 participants attending the CoreNet Global Summit. The CoreNet Global organization is the world's foremost association for corporate real estate and related professionals including corporate real estate executives from companies such as banks, Ford and IBM, real estate service providers and economic developers.

He says there has been strong interest shown in Manukau by the delegates.

He is accompanied at the conference by a small team of Council economic development staff who are manning the Council's stand. Sir Barry is also meeting separately with an investment bank and with Toronto City Council, which has a very successful economic development track record.

ENDS

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