City leaders and those at the forefront of some of the region's biggest sectors are backing a new media campaign encouraging people to buy local.
Business, tourism, hospitality and retail came to a standstill when Covid-19 put the country into level 4 lockdown.
As Tauranga adjusts to life in level 3, NZME, publisher of the Bay of Plenty Times, has today launched a new major campaign in an effort to help stimulate the local economy.
GO LOCAL! is a call to action for people to support local businesses and organisations, which city leaders say is more important than ever to help get Bay businesses back on their feet.
The campaign will shine a light on businesses being innovative and supporting one another during levels 3 and 2 - and beyond, as well as and supporting specific buy-local initiatives in various communities across the city and region.
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell said small businesses needed the community's support more than ever and encouraged people to support local firms as much as possible as part of the city's Buy Local campaign.
"This will help get companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, back on their feet, preserving jobs and benefiting our local economy."
Powell described small businesses as the "economic backbone" of New Zealand's economy, and the place where our economic recovery will come from.
"We all have a part to play in the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty's economic recovery and they can start with our decision to buy goods and services locally.
"At level 3, we will have a greater opportunity to do exactly this as more small and medium-sized businesses start to reopen under a range of Covid-19 protocols."
Powell will also be encouraging Tauranga City Council to continue to use local suppliers and contractors at every possible opportunity, subject to normal decision-making protocols around costs.
"If we were to all to buy local around New Zealand, just imagine the economic stimulation it would generate.
"Let's start breathing life into the hashtags #buylocaltauranga and #buylocalBOP. If ever there was a time for unity and us all working together it is right now."
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber encouraged people to take the opportunity to explore local walking tracks, visit nearby attractions and support their favourite cafes, restaurants and suppliers.
"Look after our local people, our local suppliers and local industries."
Webber said that, given current circumstances, now more than ever, was the time to support our local people, businesses and suppliers.
"Buy Local must be our new catchcry," he said. "We are all in this together and we should all be working collaboratively together to find the best way out of the situation and to get those who have been negatively affected by the situation, back to work."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley hoped local consumers, businesses and government agencies choose to support local businesses as much as possible.
But Cowley said the economy was not going to "instantly ignite and get going like a car engine" and would "need to be nurtured like a survivor lighting a fire on a deserted island".
"Most of our economy is made up of small businesses who rely on local support. While New Zealand's border remains closed indefinitely, locals will need to make a conscious effort to prioritise their choice of spending on local businesses to keep cash moving throughout our region."
Cowley said keeping local people in business helped to keep locals employed and rebuild vibrancy.
"For example, local hospitality and retail businesses are key ingredients to the way the city looks and feels.
"The fast-food chains will be busy during level 3 lockdown. Why not support your favourite café or restaurant instead?"
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said times would be tough for many local businesses over the next few months.
"Much like New Zealand's response to the health crisis, recovery of the economy is a team effort.
"With demand lower and social distancing restrictions likely to be in place for a while, it's really important that where people are able to spend, they do it locally."
Tutt urged Bay residents to consider where they were spending money and "help out a fellow local where you can".
"That might range from where you buy clothes, favouring your local takeaway shop over large chains or advertising locally rather than with Facebook or Google."
Smaller businesses ranging from hospitality and retail to construction and automotive businesses, particularly needed support, he said.
"Many of these businesses are finding new and different ways to serve their customers from level 3 onwards, let's make sure that we reward these great businesses by being great customers."
Downtown Tauranga chairman Brian Berry said the economic and SME recovery would be driven not only by Government stimulus but also by New Zealanders buying local - whether that was product, services or as internal tourists.
Berry said the financial impact of the lockdown and the uncertainty of "what and when" to transition into level 3 had been particularly stressful especially for small business owners.
"As well as money in the till, they will get a real psychological lift if their existing customers and new customers show support by buying local."
Berry said 'GO LOCAL' meant buying from local small businesses and interacting with those people or, if a product or service was not available locally, still buying within New Zealand.
"Public-facing businesses are the ones that need us most as they will have lost 100 per cent of turnover over the Covid-19 level 4 lockdown and into level 3."
Mount Mainstreet manager Mandy Gillgren said the community needed to pull together to support the business sector.
"It is important now more than ever to all be actively supporting local business as the environment has significantly changed and is continuing to do so on a daily level.
"Small business have taken a serious hit and we need to be as proactive as possible to show our support so we all can have the same vibrant city that we know.
"We need a positive outcome from this situation and want all businesses to feel supported and encouraged to get back to trading as and when it is safe and reasonable to do so."
Gillgren said Mount Mainstreet was made up of small- to medium-size businesses that needed as much advertising, information and support as possible.
"We need to activate the locals in different areas and ask them to support their area.
"I think that people's way of purchasing will have changed and we need to make sure that they know that we are all still here to give them the best service possible and to create that important community feeling again of being safe."
Greerton Village Mainstreet manager Sally Benning said anything that was going to help local business owners and the economy must be supported by as many people as possible.
Benning said it was "critical that we jump right in and starting spending back with our local retailers and service providers", including those offering click and collect or contactless delivery/pickup in level 3.
"Clearly when we restart spending our money locally, that, in turn, supports the business owners, who themselves, can then start spending and maybe rehiring.
"Each dollar spent on external, national and international organisations such as Amazon – is a dollar taken away from a local business owner who has been there for us, served us well and through no fault of their own now find themselves in a pretty dire situation."
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said our local economy and the people behind those businesses needed the community's support more than ever.
Dunne said tourism - including retail, hospitality, transport and attractions - was one of the first-hit industries, with overall spend in the region by visitors and residents down by 60 per cent.
"New Zealand's economy has been devastated by the impacts of Covid-19. As much as we are able, we should support local to try to stimulate the economy.
"Kiwis did a fantastic job of saving lives while we stayed at home during alert level 4, and now we need to try to save jobs by supporting local businesses as much as the alert level restrictions allow.
"Bay of Plenty locals are known for their manaakitanga, our care of each other, and we will come together to support each other now."
Dunne said that going local meant buying local goods, seeking out local service providers and exploring your own backyard to back New Zealand's economy.
"We are a community made up of small and medium enterprises, so for the majority when we support local businesses, we support local families.
"When we choose to support local, we're supporting our neighbours, our friends and whānau to get back on their feet, and that is what makes the economy go around.
"When the alert level restrictions allow, New Zealand will have the chance to rediscover our beautiful region all over again."
SOS! Businesses supported through lockdown and beyond
Bay of Plenty businesses have been supported through the Covid-19 lockdown and now into level 3 with vouchers redeemable when businesses open their doors.
SOS Business, formerly SOS Cafe, was set up to help local businesses sell gift cards people can redeem when they open to give them a fighting chance of surviving the impacts of Covid-19 and help them stay afloat.
Co-founder David Downs said 137 Bay businesses have signed up, including 46 in Tauranga and 22 in Rotorua with more than $70,000 in voucher sales so far.
Downs said the website started with just half-a-dozen businesses but now included about 2500 throughout the country.
"Everyone wants to support their local business," he said. "I think it is something practical that they can do while in lockdown."
The Nourished Eatery was one of the Tauranga businesses registered on the SOS Business website.
Owner Sharna McElligott said she started noticing a decline in customer sales from early March as people started to become more vigilant about their safety and took their food away rather than eating in.
"Since closing my doors for lockdown, apart from a few book sales I've had no income while all the operating expenses such as power, internet, insurances etc are still coming out," she said. "It has been tough."
But McElligott was excited to be able to operate in level 3 despite the many changes those in hospitality had undergone in order to reopen, including creating apps and online menus.
"I'm so grateful that I can slowly begin to make some money again," she said.
"We are essentially a drive-through cafe now, there is no face-to-face contact or the usual conversations over the coffee machine. I'm definitely missing talking to all my regulars."
McElligott said the SOS Business website had been a major help.
"So far I've had close to $1700 vouchers brought. My freezer blew up on day one of lockdown, I didn't have money budgeted for a new one but, thanks to the lovely customers who pre-paid vouchers, I could purchase another."
During lockdown, McElligott said she had been providing baking content so her customers could create their favourite Nourished Eatery treats at home - and she received some great feedback.
"I've also uploaded to my Instagram heaps asking lots of questions, so customers still feel involved about the decisions I'm making regarding new menus, days we open, etc.
"I guess it's really put things into perspective. I have a clearer idea of what's most important."