Rotorua has some great businesses. Last month's Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards were a fine
example of what we have on offer.
Every one of those finalists deserves recognition for their efforts. It takes a lot of guts to build up a business and get to such a high level of achievement.
Rotorua has thousands of businesses that support the local economy in a productive way.
Businesses do not exist in a vacuum, however.
They need the local and central government to provide an environment for growth.
This is why it is so important that businesses and residents have their say in the democratic process and get involved where they can.
After all, what the local or central government does today affects us tomorrow.
Take, for example, the contractionary spending of the current Government. Since government spending is about 35-40 per cent of GDP, when the Government tightens its belt, everyone gets squeezed.
This is seen in Rotorua where the Government has slashed jobs and spending across the board.
Despite the talent in the business community, we now see one of the worst business environments in a generation.
This is why it is important that we have a say where it matters.
The Rotorua District Council is currently seeking submissions on the proposed District Plan.
This is a legal document and will affect the way we do things for the next 10 years.
Of key concern to many businesses will be the state of the CBD.
As a tourist city it is important that we have a city centre that is the ``employment centre of the district, providing a dynamic work environment and the main gathering point for locals and tourists for social and cultural activities''.
This is a great aspiration straight from the proposed District Plan. Now we need to work out how to create it.
We need to realise that the dynamic is changing. In the past the CBD was a real central business district. People worked in it outside of retail, across a range of professional and high end services.
These employees anchored the central city and provided stability for the retail businesses.
This dynamic has changed, however, and there are now far fewer non-retail employees to anchor the central city.
The CBD is quickly becoming a destination and this is a whole new ball game. For example, it is now more important than ever to address parking issues.
Destinations have to be competitive, our parking is not.
The proposed District Plan is on the Rotorua District Council website. The part on the central city alone is 27 pages long, but it is important that the council gets feedback. These sorts of decisions affect us all and submission processes are worthy of our support.
After all, a healthy CBD will create jobs and economic benefits for all.
Fraser Newman is the manager of McLeods Booksellers in Rotorua.