The Te Puke district has a strong economic foundation on which the post Covid-19 recovery can be built.

That's the underlying message of Te Puke Economic Development Group's (Te Puke EDG) Let's Keep it Local campaign launched last week.

Supporting local businesses is the key message of the multi-media campaign.

Te Puke EDG managing director Mark Boyle says it is important people know about the breadth of the economy of the district.

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''There's a very significant primary sector and of course that has a high degree of sophistication, so it has scale, it has a very adept supply chain, has the use of technology, a very significant labour force, and it's a very significant economic engine.''

He says that while that ''engine'' is led by kiwifruit there are other primary sectors that are also strong in the district - dairy farms, avocados, sheep and beef farms and wood products.

Supporting that are large scale agricultural and horticultural contractors who are big employers and businesses such as Puke Pine and Affco.

There are also manufacturing and service sectors.

''We've got quite a range of manufacturing and in the service sector there are trades people, very specific industrial sectors and we are a hub for tractor sales and other agricultural machinery.

''Then we have what people think of when we say 'think local' - the retail stores and cafes, restaurants and pubs in the town.''


He says the campaign highlights the fact that the economic base stretches across the whole district.

''It's more than just Te Puke - it's Paengaroa, it's Maketū, it's Pukehina Beach.

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''There's a tourism sector which is on its knees now, but there's a lot of potential there, particularly at places like Maketū and in all the kiwifruit activity.''

''We are trying to impress upon people that this area from Pāpāmoa Hills to Ōtamarākau is very well established.''

Mark says the district's economy makes a significant contribution to the Bay of Plenty economy.

''We are very proud of that and so to ensure it remains strong and viable and sustainable, we've got to make sure we support all of those local people in those secondary and service sectors, because if they don't do well, it means the primary sector might have to look for those services elsewhere.''

The kiwifruit industry, which underpins much of the local economy, has come out of the Covid-19 crisis relatively unscathed and is likely to keep growing, says Mark.

As well as letter box drops, newspaper advertisements, branded brochures and stickers, there is a strong social media element to the campaign that will be used to tell the stories of those who are part of the economy.

''The whole idea is not to be running around promoting every little thing, it's to provide the framework and to get everyone believing in it and for everyone to share the material and share their stories.''

Mark is also encouraging people to take selfies with the kiwifruit slices outside the former railway station.

''That's the feel good element to it - it's about being positive. There's no denying there are significant challenges for people in different sectors, but embracing the positivity of it all is very important.''

This week's change to alert level 2 will aid all buy local campaigns.

''It will now be easier for people to get out there do business whether they be tradesmen or other suppliers or retailers.

Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber says he completely supports the campaign.

''If we are to look after our local communities, then it is essential that we support the people that work in those communities and so buying local is to me something that, hopefully we have been doing all the time, but even more so now because it's supporting your neighbour. It's absolutely essential. To me it's illogical not to support your local trades people and businesses.''

''Those people that have survived for a long time in small communities like Te Puke and they become quite respected so you don't have to double check, do these people have the skill?''

Both Garry and Mark say the development of the Rangiuru Business Park is an important element in the district's economic growth.

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The district council has applied to the for assistance for the park's public infrastructure through the Government's Crown Infrastructure Partners economic stimulus package that invited applications for funding for ''shovel-ready'' projects.

''We've been working on this for so long, all the details are there, it's shovel-ready, it's got resource consent, it could start tomorrow,'' says Garry, who says one of the reasons for making the application is employment generation.

''We hope, when it comes to Rangiuru, a lot of that work can be done by local contractors.
That's a $120-$150 million project. That's a real boost to industry in Te Puke.''

''We are feeling very positive and hopeful about getting central government support for a big piece of infrastructure delivery [at Rangiuru] and when that happens that really does get things moving,'' says Mark.