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Business growth bringing 1,300 new jobs to Waikato district

Business growth in north Waikato is expected to bring more than 1,000 new jobs to the district in the next three years according to the latest predictions.

These come on top of last week’s projections of about 300 new jobs at the Ports of Auckland’s (POAL’s) Waikato Freight Hub at Horotiu once it is completed.

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says, “This is welcome news and justifies our Council’s emphasis on good planning and balanced economic development to prepare for a long period of growth and change in our district for the foreseeable future.” 

“Our vision is to build ‘liveable, thriving and connected communities’ as our 73,600 population swells by 12,000 in the next 10 years and up to 103,000 by 2045.  Employment opportunities are vital to ensure our northern towns are not just dormitory suburbs that empty out during the day, putting pressure on our roads.”

Developers of the 80ha Gateway Business Park at Pokeno, Dines Group, say the land is now 95% sold and that it is the new businesses being established there, including Synlait Milk’s $260m nutritional powder plant, which will bring 1,000-plus new jobs to Waikato District.

Dines Group project manager, Colin Botica, says, “We could have sold some plots several times over, but we looked for businesses that would bring the most jobs to the community.”  

Dines Group is also a major residential developer in the area.

The first two stages of the district’s other major business park at Horotiu, the 109ha Northgate Business Park, is nearly 90% sold, and pre-selling has started on stage 3, the final 45ha of the development, according to project manager Graeme Lee.

He says 22 businesses have either built or are preparing to build on stage one at the site and POAL’s 33ha Waikato Freight Hub comprises stage two.

Last week POAL announced it had secured Open Country Dairy as its first freight customer for the Horotiu site, accompanied by a projection that the completed freight hub would generate about 300 jobs directly as well as facilitating more across the region.

Overall Waikato District attracted 183 new businesses and 500 new jobs in the year to March 2018, with business owners rating the district a strong 8.6 out of 10 as a place to do business according to the Council’s latest annual report. 

The report says business and employment growth closely reflected the national average, while tourism spending in the district increased 12.2% to $128 million in the year to March 2018, outstripping a national increase of 8.3%.

Photo: Mayor Allan Sanson (left), Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson and Waikato District Council GM Community Growth Clive Morgan check out the warehouse facility under construction for Open Country Dairy at the Waikato Freight Hub at Horotiu.