Ports of Auckland’s decision to build a major freight hub in Waikato proves the district’s growing status as an “economic power-house,” according to Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson.

The port company announced recently it has signed a conditional agreement to buy 33 hectares of land at Northgate Business Park at Horotiu to establish a major inland freight hub.


Allan has welcomed the decision and said it was a major success for his council’s economic development strategy adopted in 2012. In October 2014 the council launched a website (www.openwaikato.co.nz) to support new business and investment in the district. The site was receiving thousands of visits each month and had generated a number of enquiries.


“Waikato is now the fourth-largest regional economy in New Zealand and we’re growing fast,” Allan said.


“Our location in the golden triangle between Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga, and our commitment to encouraging and assisting investment means Waikato district has built a reputation as the go-to place for investors.” Allan said the announcement would be no surprise to those in the logistics, freight or exporting sectors.  The announcement has already generated further inquiry, he said.


“Northgate is adjacent to major transport links, both road and rail, and sits between two major sea ports and Auckland International Airport.  Resource consents have been in place since 2011 and the land is zoned industrial. The whole package is already there,” he said.


Allan said Waikato District Council was fielding a growing stream of investment inquiries including from another major dairy manufacturer as well as Chinese investors.


Some Auckland-based companies were talking to the council about relocating to the Waikato district because of its easy access to Auckland, the availability and cost of land and a strong local labour market.


Many were sold on Waikato’s strategic location and existing infrastructure plus the council’s positive approach to encouraging growth and development, he said.


“What’s great about the Ports of Auckland announcement is that this will be the catalyst for high-quality job opportunities for our people. And those benefits will flow directly into our communities.”


“That’s what we want – growth that has a direct payback for our district with the ability to stimulate further economic activity.”


Allan noted employment growth in the Waikato district had increased by 3.1 percent in 2015 compared with 2.4 percent nationally. At the same time, the number of businesses had grown by 2.3 percent compared to 1.8 percent across New Zealand.


“Waikato is a growing district, we all know that and yes that can be challenging. As a council, we’ve focused on putting the right building blocks in place so that developers and organisations like Northgate and the port want to come to Waikato and do business.  And they do, so I’m pretty chuffed.”


Meanwhile, Hamiltonians have a further chance to submit their feedback on the proposed rezoning of Ruakura (Ruakura Variation).


The Ruakura Variation is a proposed addition to the Hamilton City Council’s Proposed District Plan and will enable further development in the Ruakura area, comprising a 480ha, $3.3 billion project incorporating housing, businesses, parks, educational facilities and Tainui Group Holdings’ proposal to build an inland port and freight hub. During the initial consultation on the Ruakura Variation in November, the council received 50 submissions.


This further submission period allows people to share their support or opposing views on any of the points made in these initial submissions.


A summary of all primary submissions is available online alongside a form to submit further feedback. Submissions close at 4.30pm Wednesday, March 2.


Waikato Business News

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