Bay of Plenty business owners have shared what they want from the new Labour Government after a landslide party vote to red in the region.
Their biggest hope is for the Government to prioritise keeping the economy moving with continued business support for stability and certainty in the next three years.
Wage subsidies and cashflow loans were praised, but concerns were raised over policies to up the minimum wage and double sick leave as costs would fall on business owners.
Josh Fitzgerald, owner of The Barrio Brothers, Flying Burrito Brothers, and soon-to-open Italian-themed restaurant Sugo, said continued support for small-to-medium businesses was high on his wish list.
"To make sure they have access to affordable lending to be able to take up some of those opportunities that have risen out of the Covid situation."
Fitzgerald also hoped the Government would "be mindful" of the increasing cost of employment through its commitment to up sick leave and the minimum wage.
"I am not against either of those, I just think there needs to be some framework around it to make it fair for everyone.
"Rather than having everything set in stone, be open to consultation with businesses."
Mount Classic Tours founder and managing director Ian Holroyd said changing a business focused on international tourism to be more domestic driven post Covid took time and investment.
"Turning around and reinventing yourself isn't straight forward.
"We have built up a successful business over 30 years focussing on international tourism, we can't do it again in just one year."
Holroyd said while he did not expect a free handout, he wished for some relief in tax credit going forward.
He suggested some kind of tax assistance or tourist voucher for people to spend purely on tourism activities.
"Not everybody is flush with money at the moment and there is a whole sector of people who have been affected by Covid. That would help generate income and work for tourism operators like us."
Holroyd said the wage subsidy was helpful but suggested companies that did not end up actually having to use it should pay it back.
He also wished for a higher-profile minister for tourism to help move the industry forward.
"We have to plan for the recovery, we have to have international visitors. If we can get those back, we can survive."
Books A Plenty co-owner Chris Baskett said she just hoped for the country to be Covid-free and for a stable economy.
"We have been in a positive place since we came back and we would just like to see that continue."
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said the key to New Zealand's economic recovery was jobs.
"Infrastructure projects are one way of working our way out of the recession and we should focus on the ones that make sound commercial sense and deliver environmental benefits."
Cairns said the current Resource Management Act was a big impediment to timely infrastructure development and he urged the new Government to give this urgent attention.
"We have a $63 million project that will directly employ 60 people ready to go – no Government funding required - but we have no idea when we will be able to begin construction because of the uncertainty of the RMA process."
The project was extending the existing container wharf 220 metres to the south by converting storage land.
Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said the company would continue working with the Government to ensure it could contribute to the region and New Zealand's ongoing economic recovery from Covid-19.
"We'll be continuing to address challenges including attracting workers, innovating to develop great products, which will bring more value back to the industry and New Zealand and also making sure we grow in a way that is even better for our communities and the environment.
"It's also important we continue to create new opportunities through new trade agreements, improved market access, and that we protect New Zealand from biosecurity issues."
Balance Agri-Nutrients chief executive Mark Wynne said there was a renewed understanding of the value of the primary sector to New Zealand's economy as a result of Covid-19.
"The government now has an opportunity to work with farmers and growers not only on reshaping the economic future of New Zealand but the environmental one as well."
Wynne said in the Bay, the industry required continued access to the Port of Tauranga and quality products.
"This will be key to our local success. Government investment in the growth of our region, will have double-up benefits, through employment and providing excellent services and facilities establishing the region as the place to live and work in New Zealand."
What business leaders want
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the Government needed to work with businesses to make it easy to employ New Zealanders.
"I hope the phasing of Labour's employment relations policies roll out over time, rather than in one hit, so businesses are forced to investigate other options.
"There are jobs that need filling immediately that Kiwis are not ready to take on."
Cowley said border protection needed to take a risk-based approach so skilled migrants could fill urgent roles.
"We also need to welcome international students while places like the USA and the UK are not perceived to be safe."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said there were three main items he expected this Government to do from a business perspective.
"Firstly, reform of the RMA must take place swiftly to encourage investment and help our housing difficulties.
"We'd also want a much stronger and more intelligent approach to regional development – New Zealand needs strong regions and we'd expect the approach to evolve positively under Labour."
Tutt said the region needed an engaged and constructive Government that was willing to solve complex issued including infrastructure and housing.
"Good progress on this has been made in last year and we need this to continue."
Head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners Mark Lister said he wanted to see stability and certainty for the business community during the next three years.
"Politicians need to understand that while they might set the framework, it is businesspeople that take risks, innovate, invest their capital and ultimately are the ones who create the jobs for the rest of us.
"While politicians can provide support, they also need to get out of the way and let businesses get on with things, without overregulating them or creating uncertainty that sees them retrench or put growth opportunities on hold."
What hospitality wants
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said the organisation took some comfort knowing the Government's top priority would be business support and Covid recovery.
"It has been an extremely tough six months for a sector that relies heavily on tourism and we recognise that the domestic tourism market simply does not have the capacity to replace the revenue lost from foreign tourists.
"We also have serious concerns about the increasing cost of employing staff, as the food and beverage sector has an extremely high labour cost at around a third of all revenue."
With the minimum wage tipped to be $20 or higher next year and sick pay looking to double, Sciascia said those were costs that many small businesses "simply cannot bear, particularly in these difficult economic times".
Sciascia said New Zealand's economy had some challenges in the next two to three years and hoped to work with the Government on achieving "the gains necessary for businesses to survive".
What retail wants
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said the biggest issue for retail currently was consumer confidence.
"We really hope that the new Government will prioritise keeping the economy moving, and looking for ways to stimulate consumer confidence."
Harford said Retail NZ was also keen to see a review of the restrictions that apply in different alert levels and said there needed to be more focus on trying to keep businesses open at level 3 if it can be done safely.
"This is the best way of keeping businesses going as we manage through Covid-19."
The new Government has proposed changes to wage rates, sick leave entitlements, public holidays, which Harford said could have a significant impact on the viability of retail businesses and lead to unforeseen consequences including reductions in hours or jobs.
What tourism wants
Tourism Bay of Plenty's head of destination marketing Kath Low said as New Zealand's largest export earner, tourism - which was worth more than $1.1 billion pre-Covid to the Coastal Bay of Plenty - would be a critical component of the nation's economic recovery.
Partnerships across private and public sectors including central and local government would be critical to the industry's rebuild, she said.
"The Coastal Bay of Plenty's tourism industry needs strategic initiatives that assist businesses to attract, train and develop staff, as well as reach potential manuhiri [visitors].
"If the impacts of Covid-19 allow, 2021 will hopefully be a year to rebuild Aotearoa New Zealand's tourism industry within a more regenerative and thriving framework.
"To make this happen, one of the industry's key needs is for more insightful data to assist with the planning and the rebuild of the tourism industry post-Covid-19."