Foreword to the Economic Development booklet by George Executive Mayor, Alderman Melvin Naik, distributed at the conference:
George is the largest economy in the Eden District, the heart, and the capital of the Garden Route and the ideal hub from which to explore the diverse scenery and natural wonders of its surrounding areas.
During the past year, we saw a continuation of a two-tiered approach to economic development. This means a concurrent focus has been placed on support for competitive and potential high-growth industries in order to grow the economy, and provide community-level opportunities for residents of George to access and benefit from.
The City of George, as a local government entity, continuously explores opportunities for the establishment of additional tertiary education facilities for the Southern Cape.
In the coming financial year, the city is proposing to spend over R73.6 million on public transport infrastructure and upgrading nodes along key public transport corridors. These transport corridors will form the framework for densifying the city, which is critical to improving people’s access to urban opportunities.
There will be significant investment opportunities in affordable housing, as well as commercial development, along these corridors and nodes. With this in mind, we encourage the private sector to get involved and play a proactive role in bringing about transformation.
The gap in the lower middle-income housing market is anticipated to be the next big area of property investment, as people seek to live in areas that minimise travel time and cost, by living within these growth corridors.
Investment opportunities also abound in the inner city, as the city seeks to attract both greenfields and brownfields investment.
The George Municipality is targeting an annual economic growth rate of 8%, focusing on retaining and expanding established businesses in the municipal area through:
• Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E);
• Investing in the appropriate infrastructure for the next 10 – 15 years to accommodate current and new business activities;
• Stimulating the finance, insurance, real estate and business services sector (as a part of the commercial services sector),
wholesale and retail trade, and catering and accommodation sector;
• Promoting the agri-processing sector and the manufacturing sector;
• Nurturing tourism development, specifically sport and business tourism;
• Advancing the green industry, particularly biomass and solar energy.
We remind all existing and potential investors in the City of George that politics and policy within our area remain stable.
Please see below the foreword to the Economic Development booklet by George Municipal Manager Trevor Botha:
The advantages of George not only include investment opportunities, but also the lifestyle and attractions of the Garden Route.
The attraction of George lies in its scenic beauty, safe living environment and a temperate climate, as well as excellent infrastructure and an airport. These advantages offer residents a high quality of life.
Dialogue with the private sector and municipal leaders have allowed us to sharpen our focus on developing and promoting our competitive advantage. George is constantly growing in desirability as the Garden Route’s investment destination.
The City of George undoubtedly has a competitive advantage in the current economic context. It offers easy access to Western Cape markets and the world, with lower cost structures, reduced risks and good quality of life. Given the Cape Town metro growth trend, increasing numbers of businesses will view George as a good place to relocate, similar to growth patterns of towns on the outskirts of other cities worldwide.
Since 2014, the main constraint to growth has been removed. Industrial property has become available again after a few years of not being accessible. The fact that the N2 is being upgraded makes it all the more attractive. Some investors are already investing. Others are considering investing in George and are likely to become more confident when they fully understand the competitive advantages offered by the city.
Red tape frustrates businesses and prevents them from getting things done. It wastes time and costs money. It holds back job creation, economic growth and poverty reduction by contributing towards business failure, lost investment, and reduced competitiveness. In addition, inefficient and cumbersome regulation leads to prohibitive costs that cause businesses to evade regulation rather than comply with it.
The city, in collaboration with its line department, implemented “Project Simplify” as an intervention to address red tape and improve the ease of doing business through process optimisation. An online building plan and land use application portal will be live by mid-March 2018, which will enable investors and the public to transact and submit applications online.
However, prospective investors should not only always be aware of the available opportunities but should choose to invest in George as it is a city for a sustainable future, and is responsive to your business needs.
Our economic development strategy focuses on seven key areas:
• Regulatory competitiveness/modernisation — a business-friendly, cost-competitive destination with a transparent regulatory environment;
• Infrastructure for growth — a city with a functioning economic infrastructure;
• Economic inclusion, jobs and skills development as well as retainment — a competent workforce;
• Helping prospective investors find development and investment support;
• Positioning George as a forward-looking, globally competitive business destination, through the #InvestGeorge initiative;
• Working with key economic stakeholders to improve the business environment and support industry development;
• Advising line departments on maximising the economic benefits of their public investments and service delivery activities.
I trust that you will find the information in this booklet helpful and that you will use it to guide your investment decision to our shores. I look forward to welcoming you and your company to George.