9th May 2019

City access roads

Among the list of issues confronting our city, perhaps one of the most frustrating to residents is the deteriorating traffic access in and out of the city during peak traffic hours.

At the western end, we have the much discussed but little actioned Ngongotaha roundabout. To the layman, the simple solution is to re-insert the old slip lane for traffic coming from Tauranga, so they are not in conflict with the Hamilton SH5 traffic flow. (Yes that’s right RE-insert it – it used to be there!) Traffic backed up right through Ngongotaha, often to the Waititi bridge is the norm here at 8am in the mornings, and it seems easily fixed and quite unnecessary.

Out east we were promised by former Government that four lanes would be constructed right out to the airport, but this has gone nowhere since their demise at the last election. Meanwhile, we all suffer the congestion in our daily beat to and from work every day.

We all understand that the Rotorua Lakes Council has little control over State Highways, but they do have some political clout.

Can we hope for some action on these roading challenges over the next 12 months?

 

21st April 2019

Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards 2019 - is now officially - Launched!

Rotorua’s biggest annual social event is scheduled for Saturday 5th October 2019. That seems a long way away, but it is a big occasion and takes a lot of work and planning to make it a success each year. Put this date in your calendar now – it is one you will want to share with us.

Last year we used an online entry platform which proved successful, so this is to be repeated again for 2019.

On Line Entries will be open from 1st May.

This year our judging team will be selecting “the best” in six Business Excellence categories, and eight specialist categories. One of the Business Excellence category winners will go on to become the 2019 Supreme Overall Winner. We will also be selecting Rotorua’s Business Person of the Year and the entity who has made an “Outstanding Contribution to Rotorua”.

 It promises to be another spectacular occasion.

Early-bird entries (by 2nd July) will go into a draw for $1000 worth of Air NZ travel vouchers. Assistance with preparing and writing entries is available. Contact Jos for details at 027 3470860 or email at officemanager@rotoruachamber.co.nz

Our sponsors are foremost among those who help it happen and we are deeply appreciative of their support. Please see below for the sponsors and their category.

To enter go to www.wrbea.awardsplatform.com

 

 

 

 

 

18th April 2019

Do you need high-quality young entry-level staff?

We are aware from our networks that some of our members are seeking good quality young staff to train for careers in key roles. The Chamber supports those working in this space and there are currently two pipelines you can tap into to assist members to find the right person for the right role.

The first of these sources is school leavers.

In this space, the Ministry of Education facilitates matchmaking school leavers and employers. The Ministry runs periodic events with employers and school leavers where matchmaking takes place. The Ministry holds a dossier of good youngsters seeking good jobs. At one such event in Rotorua last week, 70 school leavers met with employers holding over 70 available roles. 69 of the 70 found a match between their job wants and the employers’ needs. Several have already taken roles. The next event is planned for September, so if you are keen to find quality school leavers contact Kirsten at partnership@rotoruayouthcentre.org.

The second avenue is to access selected cadets from the pool of people seeking roles through Work and Income. The Auckland chamber runs a program where pre-selected volunteers are skimmed off the work training programmes and assisted at the Rotorua chamber for local roles. This is a three-month program and for the first month (April) nine cadets have been successfully placed.

This scheme is called Cadet Max and to become involved or to interview with pre-screened cadets email Hilary at hmccabe@chamber.co.nz or Yvette at Yhellyr@chamber.co.nz.

There are lots of good kids out there seeking work and who deserve a break. Good luck with your staff recruitments and we are happy to be of service!

Noho ora mai

Bryce Heard

Interim CEO

 

4th April 2019

Investing in Rotorua’s future. Vanity Projects or Future Security?

There has been an upsurge in public interest around investing in Rotorua’s future in recent weeks. It is to be expected that people aspiring for election to council will be rolling out their “policy stances” on the issue of public interest as we lead into the Local Body elections later this year. It is one of the frailties of the democratic system that various viewpoints get expressed in colourful and simplistic terms during election campaigns. How do I make a good decision with my vote when there is so much conflicting advice in the media?

As a part of the present campaign, Council’s investment in the Lakefront development project ($20.1 million) and the Whakarewarewa forests project ($7.1 million), are coming under fire from some of the aspiring politicians in the media, as part of their own election campaigning.

Perhaps a calmer and more thoughtful approach would be helpful at times like this.

Firstly, half the cost of these projects is being funded by Central Government, so some of the numbers being thrown around need to be divided in half. $27.2 million is the Council’s share of these two projects.

Secondly, some are arguing that other projects are of higher importance so why don’t we do these other projects first? These include the Museum and the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.  However, the funding for these is coming from a variety of sources including pub charities, significant individual donors and other funding bodies.  It is simplistic to think that external funding can be moved around on a whim.  Each of these Council projects have an external funding target to reach that is as individual as the projects themselves.

Then there is the argument that this is a waste of rate payers’ money and we should just can the work altogether. I think about it this way.

  • Rotorua is a tourism driven town
  • Tourism contributed $479.3 million to the Rotorua Economy in 2018.
  • Tourism made up 17.2% of our total GDP in 2018 (source of stats is Infometrics)
  • This revenue directly supports and underpins the retail, hospitality, restaurants, hotels, motels and cafes, and every other business and service in the town, indirectly.
  • Tourism is the largest source of Rotorua’s core purpose for being and this has been the case for well over 150 years.
  • Do we want to lose this position to other cities that DO invest in producing a quality experience for their visitors – like Queenstown who already outstrips us at $683.2 million in 2018 and 32.1% of its GDP?
  • Would you want to visit a city to holiday where the lakefront, a centrepiece of the town, is visibly below par and verging on unsavoury?
  • Or would you rather go somewhere beautiful, clean, fresh and relaxing?

The question of affordability is really a question of mitigating the risk of losing market share and rather increasing market share for the Rotorua tourism sector and through it, the greater Rotorua economy.

To me, nothing is certain in this equation, except one thing. If we do NOT do it, we will lose market share.

 It is not a “reckless waste of ratepayers money on vanity projects” as some have been claiming. It is an investment designed to protect our future welfare and we should applaud the Council for securing the Government co-funding and having the foresight and courage to push ahead with the investment.

So long as the council stays within safe and prudent debt gearing levels, we should take every opportunity to invest in the future wellbeing of our city.

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber

(The views expressed in this release are those of myself and not necessarily those of individual Chamber members)

 

21 February

The Housing “Crisis”

There has been much publicity in the media about the NZ housing crisis. To the layman there are some confusing signals emerging on this subject. We hear about the tens and even hundreds of thousands of “affordable homes” that are so urgently needed, to house NZ’s people. The Government was driven to pledge to build them. But the Government has produced just a tiny fraction of its intended houses and we are now told that they attract little interest in the market from first home buyers.

Yet the housing shortage is supported by the rising cost of rentals, rising property values and the seemingly growing number of homeless people. Why then, do so few people want to buy a new home? Have we entered an age when young people no longer want to own their own home on a section and would rather rent?  Is their income insufficient to buy an “affordable home”? Has the longstanding NZ fashion of owning your own home on a ¼ acre section run its course - or are there other factors at play here?

The government is also looking at introducing a Capital Gains Tax. Will this not simply discourage those who can afford to build quality owned (and rental) accommodation, from doing so? Will it not just serve to exacerbate the shortage?

Rotorua Lakes Council has identified a housing shortage of its own, based on the projected growth for the city. Do we have a plan to deliver this? Will the national trend of nobody wanting to own “affordable houses” apply to us? If so, should we be concentrating on medium density rental accommodation and lifestyle blocks rather than ¼ acre sections?

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber

 

13 February 2019

The Environmental Revolution - A Titanic Pain in the Neck or a Tsunami of Opportunity?

For several decades we have seen the Green movement and business at loggerheads over the issue of environmental concerns. Business has seen the “Greens” as radical hippies, while the Greens perceive business as uncaring capitalists. Argument and conflict have often occupied this space where constructive dialogue should ideally have predominated. Business has not taken kindly to being issued with “you have to” ultimatums. Conservationists on the other hand, have been driven by real concerns and a perception of rapidly deteriorating standards of the environment, universally. The language in the “debate” has often been confrontational and non-productive to either party.

The result of this conflict has been denial in many parts of business, plus some seemingly, well intentioned intervention by central, regional and local government which has often had unintended consequences and served to entrench positions of both parts of this critical debate.

I believe that it is time for a fresh, forward looking approach, as has already been achieved in other countries already. For example -

  • 50% of new car sales last year (2018) in China were electric vehicles
  • Australia has a football pitch sized battery paired with a windfarm which can supply 30,000 homes with electricity

Let’s see the Environmental Revolution for what it really is. It is a sea change in societal behaviour – and like all sea changes throughout history, it is packed to the brim with new business opportunities.

Let’s reflect on some of the historical sea changes in society to see if there are lessons for us there.

The Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution changes brought unforeseen opportunities that have exploded and re-exploded exponentially, in number and size ever since! The advent of steel smelting, the development of engineering, fabrication and shipping industries, led to world trade and construction of unimagined structures and machines. The discovery of oil and its tens of thousands of applications – the internal combustion engine, the motor car industry, the air travel industry, and flowing from this international tourism and trade. Plastic began as a use for the “waste products” from oil refining and has grown to now totally dominate the materials industries taking over from wood, rubber, wool, leather, cotton, linen, glass, iron and paper. With plastic came the development of thousands of new utilities. The very life we lead is determined by a sea change that took place so long ago! It is far cry from the peasant, semi nomadic lifestyle that preceded it.

Some folk chose to resist or deny the historical changes. Others embraced them and harnessed the opportunities that the changes brought. They created new opportunities for themselves and for the world at large.

The Environmental Revolution.

We now have the Environmental Revolution bearing down on society like a proverbial tsunami. It promises to be equally as transformational as the Industrial revolution. If we ignore it, it will likely be devastating to life as we know it. However, if we embrace, harness and seek out the thousands of opportunities contained within, it can turn from a catastrophe to the best, most exhilarating surfing ride, we could ever imagine!

The decision is ours to make. Be an early mover or a laggard.

What would you choose?  What opportunities can you identify with?

 BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber

 

29 January 2019

More "Stuff We Should Know About

Further to my previous post regarding Rotorua and our "clean lake" discussions.....

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council have approached us because they believe that some parts of my article are incorrect. They are unable to argue the case publicly however, as the matter is before the courts - Plan Change 10.

The Chamber acknowledges that there will be different views on this subject and that it is a moving feast. We do recommend that people read this and other related articles and make up your own mind.

Lake Rotorua and our beautiful city is at the heart of the important freshwater discussion. Following the recent article by our CEO, read more with these links.
Farmers Weekly
Coast and Country

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber

 

16 January 2019

Stuff We Should Know About

Lake Rotorua and our beautiful city is at the heart of the important fresh water discussion and as citizens of Rotorua, this is really “Stuff We Should Know About”. Let me explain.

But first, let me be crystal clear, (yes pun intended) we all want crystal clean lakes in and around Rotorua. Clean lake water is pre-requisite to our city’s welfare in so many ways, including tourism, recreation, fishing and water sports that we all enjoy. How we get it, is the issue.

I read with interest a lead story in the January 14th Farmers Weekly, entitled “Caution urged on Overseer use”. The story featured Overseer Chief Executive Caroline Read, trying to tell regional councils and central Government some simple facts of life – facts that they really do not seem to want to hear. (Two similar articles appear in the January edition of Coast and Country).

Overseer is a modelling tool, designed to model (not measure) nitrogen loss from soil. The articles went to pains to establish, from the most impeccable and reputable sources, that Overseer is being misused by regional councils, as a measurement tool to try and ascertain actual nutrient discharges from individual properties – something that the Farmers Weekly article states “can never be known because it cannot be reliably measured”.

Why is this so important to Rotorua?

  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) has used Overseer and (Overseer alone) to model individual farm nitrogen discharges, right across the Lake Rotorua catchment.

  • It has extrapolated its models to dictate what stocking rates will now be permitted on every block, including lifestyle blocks.

  • The new allowable stocking rates will be a lot lower than those currently run on the farms.

  • This means that many formerly economic farms will be rendered uneconomic units.

  • These changes have been publicly notified as Plan Change 10.

  • Catchment land values have plunged as an immediate consequence and land owners

    who relied on selling their property as their superannuation fund upon retirement,

    will now be deprived of this income.

  • Farms could be sold off at fire sale

    prices and farmers will be out of work in the medium term.

  • Farming is one of only three primary drivers of the Rotorua economy, yet most farming will not be sustainable under the proposed Plan Change 10, (which is now being challenged in the Environment court, before implementation).

Has anyone actually tried talking with landowners to get their input on how best to achieve the outcomes we all seek? They are the experts here and they too want clear water lakes.

It seems to me (and I have been quite close to the debate) that a series of ultimatums backed up by Rules and trying to enforce those Rules is the position adopted by the regional councils and others on this matter.

Does all the wisdom about farming reside in the regional councils? I think not -especially when the tool being used to write the new Rules (Overseer) has now been exposed by its very owner as not capable of performing this measurement role!

How about a partnership approach to this problem? A simple Accord, agreeing to work together to meet defined targets? There are many ways to skin this cat, apart from enforcing ill-informed de-stocking of farms. BOPRC will say they have been in consultation for years and it is now time to take action. But there is a different kind of consultation that can happen when both parties treat the other as respected equals, seeking common solutions.

So come on BOPRC, there is a chance to show some true leadership here and build some bridges with those who can solve our collective problem – the land owners.

Rotorua’s economy will shrink – not grow – if this becomes reality, when we could work together positively to achieve a good outcome for us all.

 BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber

 

14 January 2019

Minimum Wage Increase in Perspective

The new minimum wage increase can be seen as dangerous - but will be a good thing if we can sustain growth of the economy.

One of the fundamental principles of business is not to allow costs to rise ahead of revenues. All businesses strive constantly to keep costs and revenues in balance. Additional costs that are imposed outside the control of business management, are among the biggest risks of business failure.

Balancing this business imperative against the human imperative of a decent sustainable standard of living for employees, is always going to be an emotional tug of war for all concerned. How much should we put the business at risk, to help the lower paid get a better living standard? If the business fails nobody has a job.

We have seen the minimum wage increase from $12.00 in 2008 to $17.70 in 2019. That is an increase of 47.5% and most would agree that it needed to shift.

However, it is very dangerous for higher costs to be enforced by legislation or decree by those who have no responsibility for the consequences of their decisions – no matter how well-intentioned those decisions may be.

If a business is in a healthy state of growth, it can sustain higher costs, so a growing and healthy economy is the first imperative for higher living standards.

There is always a suspicion that the business owner will pocket the profits from a growing economy and indeed some will do exactly that. However, there is also a market force at play here - if the economy is booming, incomes are growing, more jobs are created, good employees are in short supply, so a business will pay more to retain and recruit their staff (and employees get the chance to pick and choose their employer).

So, in short – a growing economy will allow minimum wages (and all wages) to increase. Let’s be thankful that we have growth in Rotorua!

Then there is the environmental sustainability of a growing economy to consider – yet another imperative. That can be achieved as well, but that is another story and let’s leave something for another time.

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber

 

19th December 2018

As the curtain falls on 2018, it is timely to look back at the year and review what we have achieved and where we might go in 2019.

In retrospect it has been quite a year!

Three new staff members began during the year, relieving some of the pressure on Jos and Phil. Linda took on the role of Regional Growth Advisor in June, Bryce became Interim CEO in July and Nikeey was employed as Membership Liaison Officer in October.

The new board took office in July with a fresh perspective of the best way forward for the organisation. Some of the results of this new positioning are now coming through. They include strengthening the business leadership and advocacy role, focussing on and fostering the true drivers of growth in the Rotorua economy, working in the void between business and sustainability and helping fill this knowledge gap to the betterment of both ideals.

In 2019 we are adopting a name change – we will be the Rotorua Business Chamber which reflects our positioning more accurately than the old Chamber of Commerce name.

2019 will see a lot more developments in this space.

In October the annual Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards were run before a near record attendance of over 630 . Record attendance was matched by record equalling entries (47 in all) and a fantastic evening was enjoyed by all. We repositioned the categories this year to better reflect the multi-cultural and primary sector driven nature of our unique Rotorua economy and that was positively reflected in the entry and attendance on the night.

Meanwhile the Rotorua economy has been humming along at levels often ahead of national and Bay of Plenty averages, something we have not experienced for decades in this city. Tourism is enjoying a big upswing and most of the other primary drivers have been steady to strong.

The year has seen a string of announcements about new investment into and funding of, big developments that will keep Rotorua positioned as a leading provincial city and tourism attraction.

Many leading speakers have been hosted, most of these sponsored by Pukeroa Oruawhata.

Space for 2019 bookings is already filling rapidly, including Business Connection Breakfasts, BA5’s, Apps Seminars and Women in Business.

So, to all our sponsors, stakeholders, partners, old and new members and all who want to become members – a big “thank you” for your support during 2018 and a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year - from your staff and the board of the Rotorua Business Chamber.

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber

 

12th December, 2018

Rotorua economy ends the year on a strong note

We have much to be happy about with the local economy as the curtain falls on 2018, says Chamber Chief Executive, Bryce Heard. 
While the fourth quarter stats are not yet to hand, the September quarter illustrates just how far we have come in the past year.

Measure

Rotorua

BOP

New Zealand

GDP

+4.2%

+3.5%

+2.9%

Residential Consents

+8.6%

-19.0%

+5.4%

House Prices

+3.9%

+3.7%

+8.4%

Guest Nights

+5.3%

+1.9%

+2.7%

Retail Trade

+5.0%

+5.7%

+4.8%

Car Registrations

+11.0%

+2.7%

-1.7%

Tourism Expenditure

+6.1%

+5.8%

+8.2%

Unemployment

5.5%

4.8%

4.3%

All the above indicators are showing strong growth and in many cases a lot stronger than the whole of Bay of Plenty and/or New Zealand. “This scenario would have been inconceivable a few short years ago but has become the norm over the more recent past”, says Heard.

In fact, the only negative indicators are house sales (down 9.1%) and non-residential consents (down 11%), but these tend to be lumpy measures in any scenario.

Crystal ball gazing is always fraught with dangers of the unforeseen, as factors beyond our control, can have an impact on our local business. Things such as world commodity prices for farm and forest produce, currency fluctuations and others all have a bearing on us.

However, if we add in the recently announced $27 million of PGF funding to develop the lakefront and Whakarewarewa Forest and the plans under preparation for several other big projects, this trend looks set to continue into the foreseeable future.

I have heard it said that there are more urgent matters to attend such as the restoration of the Museum and the Howard Morrison Centre. This may well be true, but we do not have Central Government fronting up with tens of millions to help fix these and we must seize the opportunities for funding as they come. They seldom come in the order of priority that we may desire!

I have also heard it said that economic growth leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions. This is perhaps true - if we continue to rely on a petrochemical base economy. With our natural advantages including our forests and geothermal resources, Rotorua is well positioned to move away from petrochemicals to other forms of energy and material supply. It behoves us as business people to help by becoming leading-edge users of new technology and innovative business practices.

We can have the best of all worlds. It is up to us!

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber