The latest economic forecasts and business news for the district 21 September 2022 What’s been happening in Economic Development around our District Te Waka Economic Radar There’s been a real change of focus for business people in the Waikato region, including the Coromandel, as the effects of inflation, low unemployment and supply chain difficulties have been felt more acutely – as revealed in the latest economic quarterly data released by Te Waka, our Regional Economic Development Agency. The most recent Economic Radar refers to the need for businesses to embrace the “new normal” to offset the impact of COVID-19 on the prosperity of our region. With the number of COVID infections dropping and the traffic light system retired in mid-September, inflation has surpassed COVID-19 as the dominant theme in the economic trends canvassed this quarter. Despite the pressures of inflation and interest rates, the latest Business Sentiment Survey paints a picture of employers still intending to hire. There is a sense of respondents maintaining more confidence in their own businesses than in the wider economy. Key observations from the latest primary data show: • Retail sales in the region are higher than pre-COVID-19 levels, however, the increase in the value of sales is less significant when adjusted for inflation. • The region’s labour markets remain tight, with a very low unemployment rate and pressure on the cost of labour. • The number of work-ready people collecting Jobseeker support benefits remains well below the levels of a year ago. Demand for assistance such as the Accommodation Supplement and grants for food has fallen following peaks at the end of 2021 and start of 2022. • Shortages of materials and costly delays are creating difficult conditions for the construction sector, compounding labour constraints and costs. The value of building consents being issued in our region remains high. • The completion of the Waikato Expressway should start to pay economic dividends as the benefits of faster travel times and reduced congestion materialise. • House prices in our region have continued to trend upwards, with REINZ data showing an increase of 14 per cent compared to one year ago. • Inflation is highest in the tradables sector (those either engaged in exporting or who compete with imports) and producer prices continue to affect businesses. Visitor spending hotspots - Marketview data for August 2022 Visitors spent $12.19 million in our district in August, up 34.4 per cent on the same time last year. Spending data, as measured by market researcher Marketview, reveals the top performing industry for the Thames-Coromandel district was Retail Trade, where $9.08 million was spent. Here is a breakdown of how this spending was spread across our district: Coromandel Town and Colville: $794,000 (up 26.8 per cent) Northern Mercury Bay: $217,000 (up 33.5 per cent) Pāuanui: $522,000 (up 38.7 per cent) Southern Mercury Bay: $348,000 (up 49.1 per cent) Tairua: $683,000 (up 24.2 per cent) Thames: $3.3 million (up 24.3 per cent) Whangamatā: $2.25 million (up 50.4 per cent) Whitianga: $3.20 million (up 34.9 per cent) Kōpū Wharf Shovel Ready Ceremony The shovels were put to use on the Kōpū waterfront for a sod-turning ceremony in September 2022 to mark the beginning of physical work on the Kōpū Marine and Business Precinct. Our Mayor Sandra Goudie was flanked by representatives from Kānoa, the government’s Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, the Member of Parliament for Coromandel Honorable Scott Simpson, Hauraki District Council Mayor Toby Adams, our Council’s Chief Executive Aileen Lawrie, iwi, Te Waka our Regional Economic Development Agency, Waikato Regional Council, members of the Kōpū business community and Council staff. The large turnout represented the significance of the project, not just for the Thames area, but the wider region. “I can’t tell you what a difference this will make to the Thames community, the district and beyond,” says Mayor Sandra. “We will see this part of the district take off in the next five years with waterfront development and housing, spurred in great part by this project.” Jobs will be created through the precinct’s construction, with the potential for up to 100 positions longer term, once the build is complete. You can read the full press release here. Aquaculture Forum bringing industry together More than 50 people from the aquaculture industry including scientists, industry and iwi came together to share information, ideas and discuss issues affecting the sector including water quality, climate change and how to increase funding and investment support. “The industry is poised for considerable growth with marine farms occupying the west coast of the Coromandel for harvesting of mussels and oysters,” says Aileen Lawrie our Council’s Chief Executive. “There are also new opportunities for sustainable seaweed and finfish farming. However, with all these opportunities comes the need to ensure a durable future; and having a coalition of the willing coming together is hugely valuable.” The forum was arranged thorugh our Council’s Economic Development arm with support from Coromandel Marine Farmers and Waikato Regional Council. Speakers on the day were: Coromandel Marnie Farmers Aquaculture New Zealand First Mate Thames–Coromandel District Council Waikato Regional Council (WRC). A draft marine aquaculture strategy developed by Waikato Regional Council with industry was discussed. The draft strategy sets out the vision which will see the doubling of export growth in less than 10 years. Regional Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee endorsed the draft document for further consultation with iwi and key stakeholders when it met in August. The draft strategy provides guidance on both regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms to help achieve this goal of growing an aquaculture industry that produces highly valued seafood while at the same time being mindful of the region’s environment, local communities and mana whenua. You can read the full press release here. Career and job opportunities expo in Thames in August Back and better than ever. After 2020 and 2021 cancellations due to COVID lockdowns, our East Waikato careers and business expo went ahead in mid-August. The expo brought together job providers, business, tertiary institutions and volunteer organisations in the Coromandel and Hauraki region. Thank you to the Thames Business Association for hosting the expo. It was well attended with over 900 students from schools within the Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki and Matamata-Piako Districts visiting the 40 stalls and exhibitors, meeting with potential employers and exploring apprenticeship opportunities. The feedback has been very positive, with exhibitors keen to return next year and the students impressed with the many options available to them when they leave school. Volunteer Drive Programme Mentors are being sought to help learner drivers get mobile and into jobs. Thames Community Centre pays for driver licence test fees, lessons and courses for learners who are willing to give some volunteer hours back to the community. They can also provide learners with mentored practice time in the centre car and lessons to get through to restricted and full. If you have a couple of hours spare a week and would like to volunteer, please get in touch with Jeff on 027 8689797 or firstname.lastname@example.org • You’ll be matched with a student driver and will mentor two practical driving practices per week. • The programme lasts up to twelve weeks and we have reserve mentors if something comes up or plans need to be changed. • The student drivers also give back to the community by providing volunteer hours. • We require full licence-holders (for more than two years) who have a clear police check. • Mentors will receive ongoing support and training from the centre when they start as a driving instructor. Here’s what Rob had to say about being involved: “It is a very good and positive experience for me; you are able to give direction knowingly with the experience you’ve got. It’s about building community connections.” Rebel Business School Our Council collaborated with Hauraki and Matamata-Piako Councils to bring the Rebel Business School to Paeroa between 22August and 2 September 2022. Over ten days, Rebel Business School delivered 20 workshops designed to equip participants with the tools they need to start their own business. Topics included building a website for free, business structure and compliance, social media and marketing, and how to start a business with no money. The Rebel Business School was brought to New Zealand from the UK in 2017 by Tony Henderson-Newport. The first course ran in Porirua in October 2017 and has now been held in various centres and regions throughout the country. While the course was free for participants to attend, Tony Henderson-Newport said it would not have happened without the generous support of its funding partners. “We are grateful to our partners: Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, Gr8 Job Hauraki, Hauraki District Council, Thames-Coromandel District Council, Matamata-Piako District Council and the Ministry of Social Development. They recognised what this opportunity means for the community and came on board.” Single use plastic ban Our Council would like to remind businesses and shoppers in the district that from 1 October the government’s ban on providing, selling or manufacturing key hard-to-recycle and single use plastic products comes into force. The ban from 1 October 2022 includes: • single use plastic drink stirrers • single use plastic cotton buds • plastics with pro-degradant additives (e.g. some bin liners, dry cleaning bags and pet waste products) • PVC food trays and containers used for products including meat, fresh produce or baked goods • polystyrene takeaway food and beverage packaging (e.g. takeaway containers and cups) • expanded polystyrene food and beverage packaging including food serviceware and grocery products (e.g. instant noodle containers). For more guidance, check out the Ministry for the Environment’s website. Plastic is one of our greatest environmental challenges. It regularly ends up as waste in our landfills, our moana and whenua. Shifting away from hard-to-recycle and single-use plastics will help reduce plastic waste, improve our recycling systems and protect our environment.