Kapiti Chamber of Commerce Chair Heather Hutchings
The Kapiti Chamber of Commerce says the five town centres which make up the Kāpiti Coast need more support if they're to flourish and grow, with Transmission Gully due to open next year and the Peka Peka to Otaki Expressway in 2021.
More than 100 local businesses attended the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce's annual business briefing at Southwards last night for an economic update on the region. Speakers included the Kāpiti Coast District Council and local economist, Mike Copeland.
Heather Hutchings, Chair of the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce, says work by Mike Copeland, which considers the impact of new roading projects on towns in Kāpiti, has highlighted the need to support businesses in town centres.
"Paekakariki, Raumati, Paraparaumu, Waikanae and Otaki will all soon be bypassed when the new roads open up. While the Council is investing heavily in Waikanae and Paraparaumu town centres, we believe more needs to be done to ensure businesses in towns either side are also supported.
"Early economic data has identified a short-term increase in local spending, but once these roading projects are finished, the extra workers leave Kāpiti and visitors can drive straight past our towns we will need to give people a reason to visit towns they would have otherwise called into," says Ms Hutchings.
Mike Copeland has provided economic analysis on a number of local roading projects, including Transmission Gully. He says there is a risk the businesses between town centres will be affected.
"There are a number of businesses between town centres - in places like Te Horo and Peka Peka. The Expressway will take people past them through to the north of Otaki. Whilst retail businesses within the town centres are likely to continue to principally rely on local residents and visitors staying one or more nights, retail businesses outside of these centres that are reliant on the passing motorised trade may suffer," says Mr Copeland.
Ms Hutchings says the future of town centres will form part of the Chamber's Local Election Manifesto for the 2019 Local Government Elections.
"We've identified key areas we would like Mayoral and Councillors to address, including investment in infrastructure, being 'Open for Business', and ensuring the future viability of town centres. Small businesses, like those found in town centres, are the backbone of our economy and contribute to local communities and their character. The Chamber will continue to support these business owners and advocate on their behalf," says Ms Hutchings.