Braydan Grant has opened two businesses in Whangarei in just over a year and has plans for more.
That optimism comes as a survey reveals business confidence in Northland has fallen dramatically in the last quarter of this year due to the general election in September and the uncertainty created by a change in government.
The survey by the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Northland shows only 19 per cent of businesses believed the country's economy would improve in the next six months. It compares with 31 per cent in the last quarterly survey for July to September.
The latest survey results also reveal 32 per cent believed the economy would deteriorate over the same period compared with 11 per cent in the previous survey.
But Mr Grant said people have got to "keep going" and provide what was lacking in the market.
He and wife Nicole bought a cafe on Water St about a year ago and shut it down because it was not doing well. They rebranded and opened the business as Salt Cafe and Mr Grant said the place was "busy as".
About three weeks ago, they opened restaurant Burger Bank on Bank St with state-of-the-art facilities.
"There's nothing like this in Whangarei. We know Whangarei has got enough cafe and sushi bars plus a night market but it was lacking in gourmet burgers.
"We started renovating the place two months ago and it's got old an school arcade machine, old phones, neon signs, and mixed arts, and the feedback has been amazing.
"I could have invested my money in the housing market in Auckland or in the housing market in Whangarei but I decided to invest here. That's 42 people I've employed."
Mr Grant hopes to open another cafe in the future at the Town Basin near the new Hundertwasser Arts Centre.
The British and Irish Lions tour opener in Whangarei on June 3 showed a lack of suitable eateries in Whangarei coupled with empty shops, he said.
"People have got to keep going and be proud of what they do."
Chamber chief executive Tony Collins said uncertainty by the new coalition Government on immigration and investment in key infrastructure worried businesses.
"Tourism, primary industries, aged care and health sectors in Northland are big users of immigrant labour so uncertainty around immigration policies impact them."
He said there was a clear path for young Kiwis to work with education providers and fill jobs overseas workers could not obtain.
The survey also revealed 44 per cent of employers continued to have difficulty finding suitable employees to grow their businesses.