Council crunching numbers with businesses

By John Maslin

1 comment
REVIVAL: Properties such as the long disused milk treatment plant in Whanganui East are being marketed as potential sites for new businesses.
REVIVAL: Properties such as the long disused milk treatment plant in Whanganui East are being marketed as potential sites for new businesses.

Whanganui is set to benefit from an economic uplift, if action behind the scenes attracts new businesses to the city.

Adrian Dixon, manager of the district council's economic arm, Whanganui and Partners, said a number of businesses were crunching the numbers with a view to setting up here.

Three of them would be tapping into product coming off the region's farms, Mr Dixon said, though more precise details could not be released at this stage.

One of them was at the capital-raising phase but he wanted to see that process completed before announcing any more information.

"We're also working with some local producers to build a supply line of ingredients for another food-producing company. They have engineers and architects reviewing a facility."

Mr Dixon's unit was also working with central government on projects to develop business cases. This included the innovation quarter which is aimed at creating an innovation area within the city "where innovative ideas happened".

He said Chris Heywood, economic development and projects officer for Whanganui and Partners, was working with real estate agents to package up proposals for another new business attraction which is looking at using the former milk treatment plant in Whanganui East.

"There's a great deal of activity in the business growth and investment space at the moment."

Despite economic challenges, such as Cavalier Bremworth pruning staff numbers at its Castlecliff factory, Whanganui was seeing new investment. The pet store franchise Animates opening up in the city was one example.

"And we're working closely with the district council, central Government, Q-West, Ali-Arc and other key stakeholders on opportunities with the Whanganui port," Mr Dixon said.

One factor keeping a brake on economic activity was uncertainty across the global economy. That and a lack of inflation continued to put downward pressure on interest rates.

"There is a lack of confidence and tough market conditions, so we have to expect limited increases in investment," he said.

Another target for Whanganui and Partners was the push for some high-end accommodation for the city.

He said increasing tourist numbers were highlighting the limited options, in particular lack of a boutique hotel, and the ability to handle large numbers coming to the city for conferences or events.

"We're working with partners, potential investors and central government agencies like New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to attract investment in this space," Mr Dixon said.

He said a "huge amount" of work was ongoing with owners and real estate agents to fill empty shops in the central city.

"It's challenging, difficult work but it is ongoing."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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