We are focused on keeping all our businesses, large and small, trading and keeping our Hastings people employed.
While we have gone back to Level 2 restrictions with the recent COVID-19 resurgence, we know that our community can work together to beat the virus again. We know what to do to get through this and as a council and a community, we are very focused to stay at Level 2.
The Ministry of Social Development data for July shows our region has 2,000 more people on the Job Seeker Benefit than this time last year, taking the total to 4,000 people seeking employment.
However, there are indicators across many sectors showing our economy is responding well. For example, the latest retail spending in Hastings is tracking around $2 million greater than this time last year. Home and recreational spending was the highest contributor to the overall increase, followed by hospitality, food, liquor and pharmacies.
Our community is getting behind the ‘Buy Local’ campaigns which are helping to keep our economy moving. The Hawke’s Baycation campaign is attracting many visitors to the region who are spending in our hospitality and accommodation sectors, wineries and retail stores.
Central government’s financial support for local projects is making an enormous difference to the long term well-being of our community. The government funding we have received is creating new employment opportunities for our community in the civil infrastructure and construction sectors.
These sectors have come back from Lockdown busier than ever. Each month, the number of building consents received by our council continues to rise. There is an enormous pipeline of work ahead.
This pipeline of work is coming from both the public and private sectors. Since 2017, central government has invested almost half a billion dollars in Hawke’s Bay from its various funds, including the PGF, MBIE, DIA, Crown Infrastructure Funds and its COVID Recovery Fund.
A large amount of this funding is coming to Hastings – $9 million for State Highway 51 improvements; 150 people will be trained on the job and will gain civil infrastructure qualifications; $17 million for housing infrastructure; $12 million for Foodeast (formerly the Food Innovation Hub); and a programme of renovation work coming for seven of our rural community halls. $2 million to support connecting youth into employment.
This is just to list a few. The private enterprise pipeline of work includes more than $130 million of investment in Hastings – Westside Healthcare, a regional aquatic centre, the new Quest Hotel, Royston Hospital expansion, as well as Apollo Foods and Hawke Packaging expansions.
To address our housing shortage the government’s Kāinga Ora build programme will increase public housing by 1,300 new homes over the next 4 years. Both private and public housing developments are about to get underway in Flaxmere, Brookvale, Iona, Howard Street and Lyndhurst.
Central government’s Three Waters Reform Programme is another major investment boost for our region — $50 million has been allocated to Hawke’s Bay for its Three Waters infrastructure. Over the last 18 months, we have completed our own review of the Three Waters and this is working hand in hand with the government’s recently announced Three Waters Reform.
Our council has spent the past four years on the journey to deliver safe drinking water to our 80,000 people following the Havelock North water crisis. We quickly realised we needed to focus on the broader issues and community concerns around the health and wellbeing of our lakes, rivers, and our ocean. We also know that our water — whether it be the aquifer or the storm water running into our streams — knows no local government territorial boundaries.
We are proud to be one of the first regions in New Zealand to undertake a Three Waters review and there is an opportunity to maximise the government’s investment in safe drinking water, storm water and waste water to improve our waterways and help keep our people employed.
We are very grateful for our partnerships with government and the private sector. These relationship bring jobs, security, self-respect, a sense of achievement and a feeling of being part something larger than ourselves … something very special. This is Hastings. It is hard working; it is committed. It is a strong and resilient community and it is getting stronger by the day.
While Hastings is humming, we are cautiously confident our COVID-19 recovery is exceeding expectations, but we know we have a long way to go.