What does business want from local government?
Paul Tustin is a partner in Tauranga law firm Cooney Lees Morgan and was a key speaker at a recent Chamber of Commerce event called ‘Reshaping Local Government.’
He posed the question “What does business want from local government” and came up with some refreshing responses based on what businesses had told him.
- There was a high degree of consensus about what businesses want;
- Those responses didn’t match what you read in letters to the editor;
- Great places to live are attractive to investors because they’re easier to recruit talent and have more investment by locals; and
- The market can’t solve all problems. Local government needs to step in and lead or facilitate solutions.
Paul then listed what the business community wants from local government:
- Efficient services, community safety through urban design, law and order and infrastructure.
- A vibrant, liveable city with cycleways, lakefronts, a sense of civic pride, beautification projects and vibrant CBDs.
- Commitment to soft infrastructure (arts, culture, sports facilities, events, etc) at an international level.
- A public commitment to development of the city over time - businesses appreciate that good things take time and not everything is affordable at once.
- Demonstrable value if there is to be rates increases, and a commitment to harnessing private sector funding including philanthropic trusts etc.
I was encouraged to see Paul’s observations align well with what Rotorua District Council has been doing and is planning to do over the next ten years as outlined in our 2012-22 Long-term Plan.
A prime example is the philanthropy of Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust investing $75 million into our community, much of which has been matched by rates funding and support from other organisations and private sector businesses.
Such a partnership produced our $28 million Energy Events Centre, a superb facility which would otherwise have been beyond the means of our community. It provides significant leverage opportunities for businesses to create additional wealth through accommodation, catering, sports events, conferences, exhibitions, concerts etc. And it provides a wonderful facility for the people of Rotorua that would otherwise not have been affordable.
Today is evident that the business community values amenities like the events centre, the Museum, our beautiful gardens and parks, landscaping and urban design. They’re all ‘place shaping’ initiatives that require local authority leadership.
A vibrant, attractive, exciting, and well-designed CBD is a hallmark of a successful city.
Published 14 May 2013, reviewed 18 Sep 2015.
Article courtesy of RDC