Economic Development in the Eden District Municipality is focused on promoting strategic partnerships to improve the economic development opportunities in the district. For that reason, Eden District Municipality’s Local Economic Development- and Tourism Units held a business breakfast on 28 October 2014, to discuss economic development related aspects as well as tourism initiatives, at the Simola Hotel in Knysna.
The purpose of the event was for public- and private sector to network; to outline a number of key partnership opportunities and challenges and also to develop links/synergies to enhance possible partnerships.
As keynote speaker of the event, MEC Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister for Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture in many ways identified potential blockages that could hamper economic growth in the Eden region, such as red tape within the public sector, the absence of a unified brand for all various economic and tourism related platforms, the fact that role-players do not have sufficient measurements for performance. MEC Winde further elaborated that the various brands that are used to promote the Eden district create confusion in the public and reiterated: “We have to find a unified brand”.
Minister Winde elaborated on the importance of the green economy, an ICT data management pipeline, which seeks to facilitate support to local business in the region. The meeting agreed with MEC Winde that more business investment needs to be attracted to the region. At the same time Minister Winde also congratulated George for winning the Business Chambers of South Africa award this year and challenged them to win it again next year.
Eden Executive Mayor, Councillor Wessie van der Westhuizen, at the event, emphasized the importance of partnerships such as with the Nelson Mandela University and the other municipalities in the region. Mayor van der Westhuizen also stressed that the district is suffering from a very high youth unemployment rate, meaning that there is a huge need for skills development and labour intensive initiatives to improve the unemployment rate in the district. However, given the high unemployment rate, Cllr Van der Westhuizen victoriously announced that the final procurement process of the R140 million regional landfill site project (situated next to PetroSA in Mossel Bay) that will bring about 70 permanent job opportunities for the Eden district, will start within the next couple of weeks and the construction work will commence from the middle of next year. Mayor Van der Westhuizen further appealed to business owners: “We need your skills, your resources, we need to build better relations; we will make the region an extra-ordinary region whom all of us can be proud of.
Mr Andrew Boraine from the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, at the event, advised businesses to expand their business initiatives to other regions and not limit themselves to do business in their regions alone. Mr Boraine also said that everyone is working on their own, hence, “we all should get around and plan the elephant together – in a proper sequence”.
Ms Lianda Fourie, Business Advisor from Seda, after the event, said that, the business gathering was a good start, especially with good strategic partnerships that need to be formed – public sector with the private sector and the private sector with the private sector (businesses with one another). However, role-players must not only talk, but need to stay active and focussed.” Ms Tanya Waterworths, freelance writer in Mossel Bay has positively experienced the session, especially the interaction that was allowed in the latter part of the event – it enabled good interaction and questions of concern could be asked and answered.
The following representatives from Provincial- and Local Government, namely Eden’s Executive Deputy Mayor, Cllr Lionel Esau, Eden’s Speaker, Cllr Doris Nayler, Eden’s Portfolio Chairpersons, Cllr Johan Du Toit and Cllr Johan Maxim as well as Eden’s Municipal Manager, Mr Godfrey Louw, Municipal Manager of Knysna, Ms Lauren Waring, Eden’s Executive Manager for Support Services, Ms Trix Holtzhausen, as well as members from the private sector (business owners) also attended the gathering.