The Western Bay is punching above its weight in job and business growth but Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell says the city needs to be more "visionary...".
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said in the past two years the Western Bay economy had "grown substantially", with 3.7 per cent more businesses and 7.4 per cent more jobs available.
"Those are both well ahead of the national average as New Zealand businesses grew by 2.7 per cent and jobs grew by 4.8 per cent over the same two-year period." Tutt said.
Priority One helps companies to move to the area in a strategic sense via promotion and also individually and can help them find land, local connections and generally smooth the path to moving.
Businesses contemplating relocation often wanted to be closer to the Port of Tauranga, the "golden triangle" and were attracted to the lifestyle.
"We expect all of those factors to be more relevant in the future."
Tutt and other city leaders said a number of issues, including housing costs and infrastructure, needed to be addressed to maintain the growth in the business sector.
Tutt said good planning was needed to address these issues.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley agreed Tauranga was desirable and said, "We have an extensive range of supportive businesses."
However, in his view, the local government system for opening up new growth areas was broken.
"It needs to be addressed by central government. The system makes it difficult for large businesses to make long-term plans."
A shortage of new growth areas would also push up land prices and make it more challenging to attract businesses and their workforce to the region, he said.
"A range of businesses have spoken to me about the need for more housing and rentals for their staff. The location of the housing also impacts on staff travel times to get to and from work."
Mayor Powell said there needed to be more long-term strategic planning.
"How do we open up these land traps and create the infrastructure for the business that we know is going to come?"
He was a firm advocate for greenlighting the Rangiuru Business Park at Te Puke as it could provide the necessary rail links to the port, "which will never happen at Tauriko Business Estate".
In his view, Rangiuru Business Park could have been an ideal location for Pet food company Ziwipeak, which last month announced it was leaving Tauranga.
The company said it had tried to find a new location in Tauranga for the past three years
but had been unsuccessful in finding a site of sufficient size and with the necessary infrastructure available.
The company had instead decided to build a new $70m factory in Napier.
Powell said Tauranga needed to be ''visionary for big business, medium-size business, small business and for all our social issues in terms of all our amenities''.
''When it comes to big business, particularly those that are either exporting or large import orientated, why on earth are we not using the infrastructure which is the railway?''
Two major companies that have relocated their head offices to Tauranga and are taking on more staff have spoken positively about the move - despite infrastructure issues - and Winstone Wallboards has announced it plans to build a $400 million state-of-the-art plasterboard facility in the area.
Earlier this year Fletcher Building announced it would be relocating Winstone Wallboards from Auckland to Tauranga.
The new plasterboard facility, at Tauriko Business Estate, would bring new jobs.
Jenkins Freshpac Systems Ltd traded Ōtara for Tauriko Business Estate in 2014 and managing director Tony Sayle said it was already looking at future expansion due to growth.
The company, which provided print, packaging and handling solutions to the fresh fruit and produce industry wanted to be closer to its kiwifruit customers, the port and other major markets in Hawke's Bay and Nelson.
Jenkins had taken on four new employees during Covid-19 and all of the 11 staff that came with them are still employed.
"That is a success story and I fully expected some of them may have wanted to move back to Auckland as they have large families there.
"But they are enjoying the lifestyle and many of them have bought homes."
Sayle said in his view general traffic congestion had increased but that was part of the city's "growing pains".
The company was now running out of space and would be looking to increase storage in and around its site.
Another positive had been the opportunity to employ more locals as staff had increased from 42 initially to about 57.
Meanwhile, Brother International executive chairman Graham Walshe said since the company relocated from Wellington in 2014 it had saved $5m and the experience was "hugely positive".
At the time, 28 staff also shifted and it had acquired some great "local talent". Currently Brother employed 42 people in Tauranga.
"We would highly recommend other businesses to consider the move. For it to be successful we could recommend businesses to engage the services of organisations who can support their staff on every aspect of the move."
In the beginning, infrastructure was the biggest issue but continued improvements meant it was able to achieve same-day or next-day deliveries around New Zealand, he said.
Seamless customer-centric container management and quick turnarounds by the Port of Tauranga had been another factor in its success, he said.