Boomtime has city setting the pace

By John Cousins

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Tauranga's "tremendous" growth in 2015 has put it on track to becoming a world-class city, the city's economic development agency Priority One has proclaimed.

Chief executive Andrew Coker said economic development during 2015 could only be described as tremendous, with the Western Bay's economy performing strongly by virtually every measure.

"We're on our way to becoming a world-class city," Mr Coker said in his summary of last year's achievements. "We've had the highest population growth and, as a consequence, record building consent levels and the country's fastest growing job market."

The extent to which Tauranga had left behind the impact of the global financial crisis was also reflected in the city achieving the highest increase in the average annual salary for listed jobs.

"More recently, the ASB Main Report noted that the Bay of Plenty had pipped Auckland to become the country's fastest growing regional economy."

Mr Coker said the most satisfying of last year's achievements for Priority One was the signing of the funding agreement for the planned downtown tertiary campus - the culmination of nine years' work.

Priority One also played a key role in developing the Government's Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which has identified a number of industry-aligned opportunities. It also partnered with the Government to develop an international investment strategy to attract investor migrants and direct foreign investment.

"It's clear the economic landscape in the Western Bay is becoming substantially deeper, broader and consequently more robust."

His confidence in the future was also based on a kiwifruit sector that was going "gang-busters", the increasing inward flow of skilled Kiwi expats and migrants, the growth in international students, and a rapid rise in business relocations and inquiries.

Mr Coker said 2016 was shaping up to be as exciting as 2015 with the evolution of Priority One's "innovation ecosystem" for Tauranga to become a national and international hotspot for entrepreneurs.

He also looked forward to seeing the progress with "exciting initiatives" proposed by the Civic Amenities Group in partnership with the council.

"Imagine a stadium, museum, international hotel and a civic campus in the heart of our city - amenities befitting New Zealand's fastest-growing region. We will truly be well on our way to becoming a world-class city."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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