GOLOCAL

Local mayors are encouraging people to support Bay businesses fighting to survive Covid-19 and say it will be crucial for the recovery of the local economy.

But what are our local councils doing to help stimulate the local economy and support local businesses?

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said supporting local businesses will be crucial to support the recovery of the local economy and the future wellbeing and sustainability of the community.

Chadwick said Rotorua's Build Back Better economic recovery strategy aimed to support local businesses and create a confident business environment that encouraged investment and the emergence of new sectors.

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"We are working closely with the business sector and other partners on the recovery strategy and will also continue to advocate at national level on Rotorua's behalf."

Chadwick said the council was committed to buying local services and products wherever possible through its procurement policy by giving greater weighting to local providers of trades and services.

"We will also be doing whatever we can to support go/buy local campaigns to encourage residents to support our local businesses and keep our people in jobs."

The Rotorua Economic Development will lead the establishment of a business steering group working with the local business community, iwi and government agencies to develop local strategies for recovery.

Chadwick said the council was also helping support local businesses by restarting existing capital projects as soon as possible and was offering a rates deferral option for impacted businesses for the May 2020 rates instalment.

The council will continue to work on its district housing strategy, which Chadwick said had potential to help keep local businesses going and people in jobs through construction and associated sectors "as well as addressing our critical housing shortage".

The Rotorua Economic Development was also working directly with businesses to provide support and advice and creating a space on its website (rotoruaNZ.com) for local businesses to let people know they are open.

Chadwick said the council was also lobbying for the retention of airways services (traffic control) at Rotorua Airport following a proposal they be removed.

"We believe this would be another major setback, impacting on our economic recovery."

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Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell. Photo / File
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell. Photo / File

Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell said as businesses gear up after lockdown, gaining people's support will be pivotal to their ability to get their all-important cashflows moving again.

"I encourage everyone in the Western Bay to think about their spending decisions and, where possible, to support local enterprises.

"Our businesses are depending on it. Quite simply; spending locally saves local businesses and if ever we need to do exactly this, it's now."

Powell said most of the council's construction contractors and service providers were already locally-based and "we are keen to ensure that they get back to work post-lockdown".

"The legislation applying to local government means we have to treat all suppliers fairly, regardless of their location, but there are some levers we can pull to ensure that the use of local people is maximised, and that our spending helps to build up the regional skill-base.

"Additionally, we will be encouraging our teams to break down future tenders into smaller components, to make it easier for local contractors to compete."

The Western Bay of Plenty District Council has agreed on an economic recovery plan to support the community and provide immediate relief from the impact of Covid-19.

Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber. Photo / File
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber. Photo / File

Western Bay mayor Garry Webber said the recovery plan focused on key issues for the district and how the council can complement government initiatives at a local level.

"We are just one piece of the puzzle in supporting the district's communities to recover from the pandemic as fast as possible."

The recovery plan included targeted rates relief initiatives, waiving annual rent charges for council-owned reserves and buildings for 12 months for sport clubs and community organisations and a targeted freezing of fees for cemetery plot purchase and green waste disposal fees.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

A $300,000 Covid-19 grant fund will also be set up for the distribution of one-off grants to community groups/organisations severely affected by the virus.

Webber said the council will also use local contractors where it could.

Some projects such as bridge building may need outsourced expertise but "when it comes to putting the bridge in place, use local contractors".

Webber explained some of these initiatives are immediate and others will be announced in the coming weeks once worked through with key partners.

"We have got to take every opportunity we can for those people who have been negatively impacted.

"The Western Bay has always had a strong sense of community and it's important that everyone comes together and supports each other."

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council was also approached for comment.