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Developing business key for new council

24 November 2004

Attracting, enhancing and developing business key for new council

Auckland’s mayor, Mr Dick Hubbard, said today that attracting new businesses, enhancing trade and developing new business hubs were the key areas the council would concentrate on to grow the economy of Auckland in a sustainable way.

At a meeting of key business leaders in Auckland, Mr Hubbard said the new Auckland City Council is very serious about business and that this is demonstrated by the creation of a new committee devoted to economic development.

“It is the first time we have had such a committee to focus solely on addressing the issues facing the business community,” said Mr Hubbard.

The committee will promote economic development and prosperity and enhance Auckland as an internationally competitive city by: encouraging business attraction, retention and expansion fostering business growth in key sectors encouraging the development of business development areas and communities in industrial and commercial areas.

“We pledge to take a closer look at the health of our business community. Our new policy directions will help provide an environment where business can flourish, higher value jobs increase and unemployment is minimised,” he said.

Mr Hubbard said solving Auckland’s transport problems was a top priority to allow businesses to grow and prosper.

Auckland city has experienced economic growth of about four per cent in the year to March 2004. The national growth rate was 3.6 per cent.

Recent forecasts suggest the city’s economic growth will ease to 2.5 to three per cent per year over the next two years.

While lower, it follows a strong surge in economic activity and forecasts suggest that the growth rate is likely to remain above the national average.

The consolidation is due to several factors including lower levels of migration and rising interest rates.

Auckland City Council’s chief executive, Mr Bryan Taylor, says the council regularly monitors economic activity to better understand the business and economic needs of the city.

“Statistics show that Auckland city is a major player in the regional economy. The city contributes 50 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product [GDP]. It also has a specialised role, with professional services, creative industries, hospitality, information and communication technology and education all being concentrated in Auckland city.

“In that vein, we are continuing to emerge as the business hub of New Zealand, with 29 per cent of economic activity in the national property and business services sector occurring in Auckland city,” Mr Taylor said.

One way the council monitors economic activity is through the production of the annual Auckland city Business and Economy Report. The 2004 edition was launched today.

The report breaks down the city’s performance in a number of areas, including employment, retail trade and tourism, and building and property trends. Some highlights include: at March 2004 the unemployment rate in the city was 4.1 per cent and has fallen further since then to be the lowest in 18 years wages in Auckland City have risen faster than wage inflation in the Auckland region and New Zealand as a whole tourism has been a particularly buoyant industry. International visitor numbers are up by 10 per cent (to the year ended June 2004), with visitor numbers from Asia recovering from last year’s SARS outbreak manufacturing remains important, providing 13 per cent of the city’s jobs.

Dr John McDermott, chief economist at the National Bank, says the economic assessment, while focused on the short term, points to challenges and opportunities for Auckland in the longer term.

“While Auckland city’s economic growth is positive, the GDP per capita remains below that of major Australian cities,” said Dr McDermott.

The report, collated annually by Auckland City in conjunction with Infometrics researchers, monitors short term economic trends in the city. Findings from the report allow Auckland City to prioritise areas where it can partner with groups and organisations to further support economic growth.

ENDS

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