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Hamilton attracting Auckland business
Waikato Times Article 31 March 2014
Auckland businesses are increasingly looking to set up shop in Hamilton.
Hamilton City Council's events and economic development general manager Sean Murray said there was a "definite move" by Auckland businesses to relocate or expand to Hamilton.
He was aware of up to four Auckland enterprises actively looking at Hamilton but believed the total number was much higher. "This drift is real and it's not to say businesses don't like Auckland.
"Rather, it's a matter of certain functions of business can be located elsewhere where costs are cheaper, services are as good as Auckland and it's only 1 to two hours down the road," Murray said.
Business interest in Hamilton's central business district was on the upturn, with the council aware of eight "major considerations" by large corporates and government agencies looking to locate or consolidate their operations in the central city.
Three of the eight proposals related to council-owned land in the central city: the Victoria on the River site, land behind the ArtsPost building on Victoria St, and the Sonning carpark on River Rd.
"All of this work does take time but you'll definitely see more tangible action within the next two years on these sites," Murray said.
"People aren't just talking about it and thinking about it, they're actually spending money to investigate it."
Aidan Donnelly, a senior development manager for McConnell Property, said the company was negotiating with tenants to occupy Victoria on the River. McConnell Property is the property developer for the site. For confidentiality reasons he could not confirm interested parties but said talks were progressing well. "We're making good progress and talking to a number of parties."
Donnelly had also heard of Auckland companies looking to set up operations in Hamilton's central business district.
"For some commercial office tenants and businesses, Auckland is becoming expensive. And Hamilton, to some, is an attractive opportunity given the road connections and central location."
Murray said a challenge for council would be deciding how to fund infrastructure needs, such as roading and water supply, to accommodate the business growth.
Retail had gone through a tough time across the country, Murray said, but he believed it was starting to bounce back in the central city as the economy picked up and consumer confidence returned.
"We have a retail challenge in the central business district but our view is the best thing that can happen to help alleviate that is for more people to work or live in the central business district."