Commercial development in the Waikato district is moving ahead of the national average.

Commercial development is growing as businesses see opportunities for growth free from urban congestion but within easy logistical reach of the country’s largest market and with an expanding local employment pool.

Positioned between Auckland and Hamilton, and with the Waikato Expressway on target for completion by the end of 2020, the Waikato district attracted 183 new businesses and nearly 1000 new jobs in the year to March 2016.

The 2.2% growth in businesses exceeds the national business unit growth of 1.6%, while employment growth of 4.6% accelerated ahead of the national figure of 2.7% for the same period.

The council’s economic development manager, Clive Morgan, says a return of confidence in the dairy sector is helping to bolster growth based on other favourable factors. “Businesses are relocating here to take advantage of cheaper land and more efficient logistics for reaching local and international markets,” he says.

The latest high-profile company to announce a move to Waikato District is the country’s second-largest dairy processor, Open Country Dairy, which has started work on a new plant at Horotiu with the expectation the site will start processing milk by the spring of 2018.

Another is US-based Cobb Vantress, which has gained Overseas Investment Office approval to establish a $58 million poultry farm and hatchery on 149ha at Rotongaro near Huntly.

Co-locations attract

Attracted by the opportunity to co-locate with the multi-million dollar Ports of Auckland freight hub under development at Horotiu, or with the $210 million Yashili infant formula plant at Pokeno, many of the companies are food processors and distributors, logistics companies and building supplies companies.

Business park developments at Horotiu and Pokeno are filling fast with 42% of the 109ha site at Horotiu now sold and Pokeno well under way.

“We expect Tuakau will be the next town to come into focus for businesses wanting room to grow and there is 116ha of zoned employment land to satisfy that interest,” Mr Morgan says.

“District-wide we have a total of about 380ha of commercial and industrial land available. Our position between Auckland and Hamilton is putting us on a steep growth trajectory for housing and commercial development but we’re taking considerable care to ensure that our urban developments do not put prime agricultural and horticultural land at risk.”

For the past two years building consents in Waikato District have overtaken Wellington to be the fourth-fastest growing area in the North Island and seventh fastest nationwide. The population is tipped to rise more than 25% from about 70,000 to nearly 90,000 by 2031.

In the March 2017 year, the council issued 796 building consents, up 10% on the previous year but a massive 67.9% hike compared with consents issued in the year to March 2015.

Mr Morgan says the transport corridors linking Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga are integral to the Waikato district’s growth.

“There is a huge potential for developing both our local freight and tourism industries just based on this traffic,” he says.

Freight in this so-called “golden triangle” represents more than half of all the country’s total freight movements. This is predicted to increase by 58% in tonnes and 48% in tonne-kilometres by 2042.

Tourism is also on the rise, with spending up 17% to $112 million in the year to March 2016 compared with the 8.3% rise in the country’s total of $26 billion.

Mr Morgan says the expansion of the government’s ultrafast broadband (UFB) programme has recognised the need to support commercial and residential growth throughout the district, from industrial growth in Horotiu to tourism in Raglan. The eight Waikato towns included in the latest UFB rollout are Tuakau, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Taupiri, Ngaruawahia, Horotiu, Whatawhata and Raglan.

Article source: National Business Review - Special report: Spotlight on Waikato


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