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Manukau businesses ‘go forth and invest’

26 May 2005 – for immediate release

Economists urge Manukau businesses ‘go forth and invest’

“Economic growth will continue, although at a slower rate than previous years, and we need to save more, invest more, and increase the value of our exports in order to benefit from it.”

This was the message driven home by speakers at the Manukau Economic Briefing, attended by 180 of the City’s business leaders on the evening of Tuesday 24 May.

Speakers at the annual event included economist Dr Ganesh Nana of Business and Economic Research, business commentator Rod Oram, and Mayor Sir Barry Curtis.

How well is Manukau’s economy doing? The latest business data confirms that Manukau remains New Zealand’s fastest growing large city, and one of the top cities when measured against any economic indicator.

For example, from amongst the City’s 21,000 business units, retail sales have increased by 6%, and wages by 3.6% in the last twelve months. The commercial building market is booming, and record numbers of consents have been issued by Council. Continued immigration, and major developments such as the one at Flatbush which will house 40,000 people within six years, continue to provide a strong economic platform.

“The New Zealand economy will continue to expand, and so will Manukau’s,” predicted Dr Ganesh Nana, who believes that growth in business spending will remain strong, underpinned . by building, investment, immigration, employment, and international influences, in particular from Asia and Australia.

Manukau’s economy is largely supported by manufacturing, building, retail and distribution, with business services and social services beginning to have a larger impact.

An important reason for the growth is higher levels of spending, bought about the increasing number of people participating in the work force. In particular, more women and people aged 60-65% are now in the workforce. “This is a major change in behaviour,” says Dr Nana.

Rod Oram placed particular emphasis on the role of saving and investing, amongst corporates and citizens, in our economic growth.

“We are one of the front-runners for growth amongst advanced countries, but we aren’t making a good enough living,” he explained, urging Manukau business leaders to aim to grow our economy by 60% in the next ten years.

However this will only happen if businesses invest in increasing the value earned from their exports, and citizens save, to keep New Zealand dollars in the country. Oram would like to see this debate arise as a key election issue.

Oram and Nana suggested that the challenges for Manukau are consistent with those of the rest of the nation. They include:

Nationally, despite strong export growth and commodity prices, our current account balance as a percentage of GDP continues to decline. We need to focus on increasing export value, and savings, in order to rectify this. The average business in the City has just 5.2 Full Time Employees (in comparison with more than six, ten years ago).

This decline in business size is a nationwide trend, and it means that on average, for every one business that employs 100 people, there are 40 businesses that only employ 2.5. Dr Nana also encouraged those at the meeting to expand their definition of the Asian economy further westward. He pointed out that India, which is the world’s fifth largest economy a English-speaking, risks becoming a missed opportunity as far as New Zealand business is concerned.

Sir Barry Curtis, who spoke about the current and future make-up of Manukau City’s economy, also expressed concern that roading plans had not progressed for the Auckland region, and with the fact that long delays in decision making were paralysing investment in many areas.

The Economic Briefing was organised by Enterprising Manukau, Manukau’s Economic Development Agency dedicated to the growth and development of Manukau City.

Enterprising Manukau works with new and existing businesses every day, and Chief Executive Gaelle Deighton says that she has never seen a time of such excitement in the business community. “New businesses are moving to Manukau every week,” she says. “We now have 21,000 businesses in the city, the business base continues to expand and businesses are focused on growth and expansion.”

Enterprising Manukau also organises the Westpac Manukau Business Excellence Awards. Entries for the Awards close on 20 June, and businesses can find out more by visiting www.bizawards.co.nz.

ENDS

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