Thirteen new businesses have opened in the Mount over the past year as business confidence soars in the region.

Mount Mainstreet manager Ingrid Fleming said just one spot left to lease on the main street.

Among the 13 new businesses to open was the first Bay office for Vekart, interiors and joinery business that has been in Rotorua for 20 years.

Owner Tracey Murphy said she had been living in the Mount and seeing clients at home. The building boom convinced her to lease office space.


"Clients are more than happy to come to the Mount for meetings from Hamilton or wherever. It's a destination. They grab a coffee and go for a wander."

Down the road, Tauranga local Hal'e Lawrence moved back to his hometown two years ago, after 10 in "competitive" Auckland.

He designed his Gallery Athletic sportswear business around the culture at the Mount.

Both business owners said trade was good and looked to stay that way.

The demand for retail space in the area reflects the results of two new surveys showing a big rise in economic confidence.

The June Westpac economic confidence survey showed 42 per cent of households In the Bay of Plenty, expected the region's economy to strengthen over the coming year.

That partially made up for a sharp drop in confidence in March.

Westpac's acting chief economist Michael Gordon said Bay optimism was backed by horticulture sector strength, rising tourist numbers and rapid population growth.


Those numbers were backed by a recent Priority One survey of the local businesses.

Manager Annie Hill said 92 per cent of respondents were confident about the future of their business and the local economy.

The boom was causing some growing pains, she said.

''We are seeing some pressure on key infrastructure, in particular, roading.

"However, this is part of the evolution of Tauranga from a smallish city to a modern, contemporary city and work is underway to identify solutions.''

Papamoa Plaza centre manager David Hill said the retail market was struggling to keep with the demand in the fast-growing suburb.

It found Papamoa people did half their spending outside the area.

That meant there was plenty of room to grow and fill in Papamoa's retail market, including a lack of large format stores, restaurants, electronics and whiteware, Mr Hill said.

"We have some businesses tracking 20 to 30 per cent up on the same time last year.

"The data backs up what we know intuitively. Sleepy Papamoa is not so sleepy anymore."

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said things were looking positive for the Tauranga economy.

"Some of the heat has gone out of the property market, which is not a bad thing; but otherwise the fundamental drivers remain strong."

"Some employers are reporting difficulty in finding skilled labour in some areas, but others are spoilt for choice."

House of Travel Downtown Tauranga owner Shane Kennedy said business growth had jumped 17 per cent from last year.

''I am confident about the future. In my view Tauranga is clearly growing and an attractive place to live and work.''

''Our trade is a measure that people are spending. Cruise business alone is up 43 per cent.''

Greenslades Furniture co-owner Andy Greenslade said the business had experienced "significant growth" in the last year.

A major driver had been backing New Zealand lounge suite manufacturers over imported varieties.

Mount's new businesses
- Gallery Athletic
- The Rabbit Hole Café, Restaurant and Bar
- Hide Eatery and Bar
- Pita Pit
- The General
- Verkart
- Saya Suka
- Thai Touch at the Mount
- Wild One Wholefoods Eatery
- Be Organics
- Electric Soul Tattoo and Gallery
- Pair by Sisters
- Epsilon Hair

UK to Mount Maunganui

When business owners Mike and Emma Brandt decided to move from London to New Zealand, they chose her hometown, Mount Maunganui, over the big centres.

The Brandts opened four retail stores in the United Kingdom to sell their designed and imported homewares and art.

For a few years, they kept an eye on the Mount and started doing some research on the Tauranga market.

They considered Auckland or Wellington, but saw the Mount becoming a better fit for their target audience.

"There is a good mix here between local and tourists,"

Factors including more high-quality shops and restaurants moving in, regional population growth and the housing boom convinced them it was time to make their move - toddler in tow.

They opened Saya Suka in October last year, and run their UK businesses remotely.

"So far it's been going really well. After the first year of trading we are very happy," Mr Brandt said.

They don't miss the London commute, either.

"If I'm in the mood, I can walk home on the beach. It's heaven," Mr Brandt said.