Creating a collective voice for Opotiki

Opotiki. Photo: File/SunLive.

Almost 50 business and community members are joining to spark a conversation and create a collective voice and vision for businesses in the Ōpōtiki district.

A business breakfast was organised on Tuesday by the Ōpōtiki District Council and the Eastern Bay of Plenty Chamber of Commerce.

Council’s planning and regulatory group manager, Gerard McCormack says the meeting was an opportunity to hear directly from local business owners and to provide an update on Council activities that will affect their day to day work.

“We have some big projects underway that are going to impact businesses owners, particularly in the CBD. Changes through the national earthquake legislation will start being felt in the coming months so it was a chance to make sure building owners were across the implications of that.

“It was also a chance to get feedback on our town centre revitalisation project. We appreciate that there have been some global shifts in the way people shop and how provincial towns service their communities.
Gerard says they also know the physical look and feel of a town centre and the infrastructure that Council provides has a big impact on how attractive it is for people to come and spend time.

“By revitalising our town centre, we want to bring back the heart to the CBD and make it a buzzing, energetic place to be.

“We got some really valuable feedback and certainly a commitment to meet again soon. There were some good ideas from attendees about Christmas parades and markets and all sorts of opportunities to revitalise our town centre.

“This is an exciting time for Ōpōtiki and a key moment as the revised business case for the Harbour Development is submitted to government in the coming weeks. There is no doubt that the development of a Harbour would change the face of our town considerably and we want to hold the reins on that.

“A ‘yes’ to our business case would mean we move to stage two of the revitalisation project – looking at how we best to link the harbour with the CBD and unlock that new potential.”

Gerard says Council saw the first breakfast meeting as a ‘catalyst’ – a chance to bring together the business community and spark the connections for a united voice. At that point, Council expects that businesses themselves would take the lead to continue that process.

Eastern Bay of Plenty Chamber of Commerce President, Karl Gradon, spoke at the breakfast and says the benefits multiplied when businesses worked collectively.

“It is a bit of a cliché, but a rising tide really does lift all ships. When we all do well and when the town is buzzing with locals and visitors alike, everyone wins.

“The Chamber’s role is pretty simple – we educate, we connect and we advocate. The breakfast was all about taking that first step of connecting businesses and working together to maximise our opportunities.

“There is a real economic surge in the Eastern Bay of Plenty at the moment through increased activity in existing businesses and in the injection of PGF [Provincial Growth Fund] activity as well. It is a great opportunity to make the most of that.

“Co-hosting the breakfast is a great start and we hope that businesses take up the challenge to connect and reinvigorate business activity in the CBD.”

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