We have a strong primary production industry in Tasman that we need to support, but we need to encourage more
Tasman needs greater engagement with youth, and businesses need to help provide our youth with pathways to skilled employment. For too long the youth of Tasman have had to leave the region to train and utilize their skills. It then becomes an expensive and often futile exercise to attract them back to this region.
Business collaboration and working with partners for growth opportunities need to be explored more.
What can the Tasman District Council do to facilitate better a business environment?
One of the major problems in this region is housing, and affordable housing. Another is the “sunshine wages” culture that this region has become infamous for. Businesses need to step up and pay a living wage in conjunction with the Council working harder to encourage more affordable housing options.
- The Council needs to create a more stable and supportive environment for business to operate in.
- The Council needs to develop an economic development plan with a holistic view of the region.
- The Council needs to stop subsidizing selected businesses at the expense of other businesses.
- The Council needs to stop providing services that compete with private enterprise.
The Tasman region is more than a handful of irrigators on the Waimea plains and a collection of large retirement villages. Tasman District Council needs to broaden its vision for our region.
Tasman District Council needs to create an environment that facilitates co-funding, resources and training for business startups. But we need to elect a council that understands that subsidising businesses is not the same as giving grants or providing resources for entrepreneurs to develop a business. A prime example of this is the recent decision to give money to subsidise electric bike recharge stations — instead of facilitating a micro business opportunity for a secure “park and charge” with bike service facilities, luggage storage, or a coffee recharge. Providing a business opportunity and saving a ratepayer subsidy.
Businesses that create value add opportunities to our primary produce, or that work in the technology sector to support our primary sector, both lift our poor GDP (we are the second-lowest region in the country) and lift our average wages (we are 14% below the national average).
We need to work together as a business community and as a community as a whole to turn our region around and recreate the vibrant and diverse community that we were once known for.
It starts with a plan. If we don’t have one we will continue to fall behind the rest of New Zealand and we will remain a district of retirement homes with a few horticulturists – not that they are bad in themselves, but we have focused on them for the past 12 years under the current Council leadership.
It is time for this Council to get its eye back on the ball with a Mayor who has some business acumen. Which is why I am voting McNamara for Mayor.