Opportunities still abound for Auckland businesses to make hay out of the Rugby World Cup sunshine, executives at the city's newly created economic development body say.

The Auckland 2011 project was set up as a joint effort by the region's councils, economic development and tourism agencies. It works with the government body, New Zealand 2011, to ensure business makes the most of RWC opportunities.

But with the advent of the Super City, Auckland 2011 is now officially one entity and comes under the auspices of the new council-controlled organisation Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

While ATEED probably needs to come up with a catchier acronym, general manager, sector and business development, Clyde Rogers said it had made the region's efforts far more streamlined.

"It makes things more efficient and I guess in the end we're able to deliver the programme in a more holistic and efficient way."

Auckland 2011 has been providing businesses with information on how to bid for work and launched a guide to business opportunities earlier this year.

It will launch a follow-up programme and guide, called Event Ready, this coming March.

About 45 licensing opportunities have already been let, from upgrading training venues to toilets and signs.

Half had gone to Auckland businesses.

However, there were still opportunities for businesses, particularly in the corporate hospitality area, Rogers said.

Firms could register as a supplier on the Tenderlink site and receive notification of any new tenders.

Auckland 2011's other major focus was the international trade opportunities the RWC could bring, he said. "A lot of research we've done tells us that countries like Australia with the Sydney Olympics really levered the event for offshore business opportunities."

The Auckland organisation is working with government in developing the Business Club, an online community linking local and overseas businesses.

Kiwi businesses can sign up as "hosts" and visiting business people are put in touch with events that may suit them.

Rogers said the aim was to identify business people coming to town, and supply them with information on networking and showcasing opportunities.

So far 1500 New Zealand and 500 international business people have joined the site, and the aim is to reach 10,000.

Auckland 2011 is also working on an Investment Ready programme, in conjunction with bodies such as expatriate network Kea and the Escalator high growth service.

Part of the body's efforts so far has been a series of seminars, the last of which was this week and focused on global connections.

Speaking at the event, Grant Fox, former All Black and managing director of Carnegie Sports Marketing, urged local businesses to understand the scale of the opportunity.

The Rugby World Cup would deliver the largest number of international visitors of any event in the world except the Olympics and the Soccer World Cup. "When we say it's a massive opportunity we're not just fudging it."

He encouraged businesses to contribute to the Kea Pass It On project - an online gallery of video clips exhibiting the best of Kiwi innovation.

Shane Brown, managing director of Mt Roskill-based Flagz's Group which is the official provider of flags to the RWC, said networking paid off. Flagz is making all the street flags and banners and will also make retail products such as supporters' capes and car flags.

Flagz's licence came about after a "fortuitous" meeting with people from Velocity Brand Management, the company managing RWC licences, at a conference in Sydney early last year.

It was early days with not much happening. But those networking efforts, plus Flagz' reputation as a supplier and sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand, lead to the deal, Brown said.

He advised other businesses to make connections. "I believe there's still opportunities out there. Really it's starting to fire now."

National stage set for growth

Key indicators are showing that the economy is improving. Rising employment and falling debt assisted by record commodity prices, a low Kiwi dollar against the Australian currency, low interest rates and improving manufacturing all point to brighter days ahead.

Next year, with help from the Rugby World Cup, post-earthquake reconstruction and the simple passage of time taking more people and businesses to comfortable debt positions, we expect much stronger economic growth near 3.5 per cent. But for the next three months it remains likely that householders in particular will retain a tight grip on their finances, perhaps waiting for greater labour market strength.

- Tony Alexander, BNZ chief economist
On the web
* Auckland 2011: www.auckland2011.com
* New Zealand 2011 and Business Club: www.nz2011.govt.nz
* www.nz2011.govt.nz/business
* Kea Pass It On campaign: www.passiton.co.nz
* Tender site:

www.tenderlink.com/businessopportunities2011/