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Tēnā koutou,

After 48 days of Levels 4 and 3, yesterday marked a welcome but physically distanced reopening for most of our business community. With domestic travel again possible, schools resuming from Monday and bars due to reopen on Thursday, it is business but not as we know it and is motivation for all our community to join the Choose Manawatū initiative.

Yesterday’s 2020 Budget underlines the challenge we face as a region and a country. We wish stakeholders to know that there are plans and projects in place between local and central government, the private sector, and agencies like ourselves, to steady our ship and regain the momentum we had pre COVID-19.

During April’s lockdown, CEDA staff provided 167 businesses with COVID-19 support and funding assistance under NZTE’s Regional Business Partner programme. At an average of seven businesses each working day, this business support included human resources, accounting, marketing, management, and business continuity.

Budget 2020:

The $50 billion COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund is on top of the initial $12.1 billion package, and the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced in January. Of particular interest to our region, are the following:

$4 billion Business Support package:
An eight-week extension in the Wage Subsidy for businesses who have suffered a 50% reduction in turnover over the 30 days prior to application compared to last year;

$150 million short-term temporary loan scheme to incentivise businesses to continue R&D programmes that may be at risk due to COVID-19. This will complement the existing R&D Tax Incentive.

$216 million boost to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to expand the scope and intensity of support provided to exporting firms; and

$10 million in funding to support small businesses to improve their e-commerce service offerings, and incentives/grants to encourage e-commerce adoption.

Environmental Jobs package
A $1.1 billion package including $433 million for regional environmental projects in partnership with local government and farmers; a $315 million package for pest eradication and control; and $200 million to support job creation within the DOC estate.

$400 million funding for the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan to support businesses to plan for the next steps, a fund to ensure key tourism assets survive, an 8 week extension for Wage Subsidy, a domestic tourism marketing campaign and a public/private taskforce to shape the future of the industry.

Initial $3 billion contingency for additional infrastructure is further to the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade. This will include projects that are identified through the Infrastructure Reference Group, which has received 1,924 submissions across 40 sectors with a combined value of $136 billion. The $3 billion announced today will have a focus on regional infrastructure projects identified through the Provincial Growth Fund, with additional projects beyond this initial allocation expected.

6,000 additional public housing and 2,000 transitional housing places over the next 4 to 5 years to be financed by $5 billion of building through the Kāinga Ora borrowing and investment.

More than $1 billion to improve transport and enhance national rail and includes $400 million to replace the Interislander ferries.

Education, Training and Jobs:
$1.6 billion in a Trades and Apprentices Package to provide opportunities for New Zealanders of all ages to receive trades training, including the rapid retraining of 10,000 New Zealanders for the primary industries; a $50 million fund for Maori Apprentices and Trades Training and $121 million for He Poutama Rangatahi, which engages young people at risk of falling out of work.

There’s a lot of detail yet to come, so we’re keenly awaiting further information on these initiatives, and how our city and district may be able to access and leverage them for our economic recovery and long-term growth.

The good news is that there is further support for our impacted businesses via the wage subsidy scheme and funding available to develop online and e-commerce capabilities, which we know now will be crucial to help protect our retailers, cafes and restaurants from future shocks. The investment in infrastructure bodes well for our priority projects such as the KiwiRail freight hub and the regional freight ring road, and the focus on environmental jobs and regional projects is a very a positive inclusion that speaks strongly to our need to evolve and develop more environmentally sustainable, and innovative business models.

We know that many of our people will be seeking opportunities to retrain and develop new skills, so the commitment shown in this budget to vocational training is good, and aligns well to our strengths as a leading education city.

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi,
Linda Stewart

This was published in the 60 Seconds with CEDA newsletter on May 15, 2020. Sign up here to receive our newsletters directly

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