Bay of Plenty business owners have been asked to have "broad shoulders" after a Budget that did not offer much for the sector, sector leaders say.
And a $3.3 billion big-ticket benefit boost could either help or hinder the labour market.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said businesses were "the ones that are being asked to rebuild this economy."
"The perception is that the economy is going well and small business owners just have to dig their heels in."
Cowley said there were no new incentives in the Budget to help grow the economy, specifically for small business owners.
"At a time when the Government is trying to restrict immigration and work visas, they are also increasing benefits so it's getting harder and harder for business to even get low-skilled workers such as dishwashers for hospitality. It's just becoming more challenging for businesses."
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said he did not see anything in the Budget that would help businesses create more jobs to address unemployment.
"That's disappointing. There is a lot of ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff-type stuff."
Heard said people receiving a benefit needed to be looked after and encouraged until they could find employment.
"But we also have to grow the economy to create the jobs to provide them with the opportunity to work."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said increasing benefit levels by up to $55 per week by April 2022 was understandable but did not solve the underlying issues.
"I would have preferred equal focus would have been placed on getting people into employment, and for helping the working poor."
He hoped the Bay received its fair share of the $57.3b in infrastructure spending between 2021 and 2025 as the region had a "compelling need".
Tutt said the Budget sought to change how the pie was sliced and did not focus much on growing it and making New Zealand more competitive.
"To do that we need to see a significant investment in innovation, businesses and people so that we can generate more income to improve our living standards."
The head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, Mark Lister, said benefits were a "good thing" for the local economy.
"More money out there means more spending," he said.
"You give a lower-income person an extra $50 bucks a week and they will spend it, you give a wealthy person an extra 50 bucks a week and they will probably invest or save it.
"That additional support for people at the lower end of the spectrum tends to find its way out there into supermarkets and the local economy, which mean you get that multiplier effect."
Lister said it may not be enough to offset big increases in housing costs but "at least it will make life a little bit easier at the fringes".
As for the labour market, Lister said there were two scenarios.
"On the one hand if you're increasing benefits there is less incentive to go out and get a job ...
"But then again anything that provides a boost to economic activity should theoretically mean businesses are busier and can afford to take on more staff."
Apart from tourism still feeling the pinch and some kiwifruit labour shortages, Lister said, the Bay's economy was "in good shape".
"I am feeling glass half full about the economy both locally and nationally."
Meanwhile, there was still $5.1b left in the $62b Covid-19 response and recovery fund and the Treasury forecast a "significant opening" of the border on January 1 next year.
Tourism Bay of Plenty acting chief executive Oscar Nathan said the forecasts signalled a "light at the end of a very dark tunnel" for an industry that had taken "massive knocks" post lockdown.
"The international visitor and cruise passenger market is worth $250 million to our region's economy, so the prospect of borders opening in 2022 will be bittersweet for some operators.
"Many operators will need ongoing support until then to keep their doors open."
Rotorua Economic Development interim chief executive Andrew Wilson said tourism businesses dependent on high visitor volume and international markets will welcome the news of a possible opening of borders in January 2022.
"We also know that tourism businesses are realistic and resilient, and, along with the wider visitor industry, continue to face incredible challenges and are working phenomenally hard to support their staff, pivot, and seek out opportunities to stay afloat and prepare for a return of international tourists."