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Hamilton’s economy stays steady in tough times



Hamilton hopes to sustain a positive retail graph moving into the new financial year (Hamilton Airport Image)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, March 21, 2023

Hamilton’s economy continues to perform well and the supply of quality office space in the central city is on the rise.

A snapshot of the city’s economy was presented to Hamilton City Council’s Economic Development Committee at its inaugural meeting last week, on Thursday (16 March).

Chair Ewan Wilson said that despite economic headwinds, the city’s GDP held up in 2022 and the number of people in employment grew.

He said, “Despite talks of a looming recession and high inflation, Hamilton is well placed to weather any adverse headwinds. The fundamentals of Hamilton’s economy are strong. We have a diverse economy which is spread across several dynamic sectors.”

A host of reports were presented to the committee, outlining the performance of external agencies and Council-controlled organisations (CCOs) during the six months to December 2022.

Waikato Regional Airport Limited (WRAL),  which is made up of Titanium Park, Hamilton Airport, Hamilton And Waikato Tourism, and the JetPark Hotel reported a net surplus after tax of $17.7 Million.

“WRAL’s strong performance in the face of uncertainties around air travel and tourism was a great result for Hamilton,” Councillor Wilson said, noting that the Council’s initial $7 million investment in WRAL was now worth $114 Million.

Council holds a 50% shareholding in the WRAL Group. “My observation of the airport management is they have got it right. They have got diversification right, they have got the day-to-day decision systems working well and, what an impressive six-month profit of some $17 million.”

Hamilton Central Business Association also presented to Thursday’s committee meeting, detailing significant developments underway across the central city.

Spending in the central city increased in the December 2022 quarter, up 27% from the same period in 2021. The supply of quality central city offices was also on the rise, with A and B-grade builds making up about 35% of office space, which is up from 15% a decade ago.

Mr Wilson said, “I think Hamilton City Council has to pat itself on the back regarding the quality of office stock. That is a direct consequence of the Council’s district plan. It is a by-product of a plan that prioritises quality office space in the central city.”

Looking ahead to the next three years, the Council’s economic agenda was focused on enhancing the well-being of Hamiltonians.

“I am looking forward to continuing to engage with businesses to ensure that, not only do we focus on enabling growth in the form of attracting new businesses, but we also focus on supporting businesses that are already here.”

On an earlier occasion, Hamilton Central Business Association general manager Vanessa Williams also spoke about positive signs in the CBD bounce-back after Covid restrictions.

She said, “We ended the year on a high in Hamilton. We were up 27% for the December quarter. Some of this was rebound spend, particularly for accommodation and hospitality. The bulk of growth in that sector, where the annual spend rose 13.7% to $116 million was in accommodation as people started to travel more in a less restricted environment.”

Ms Williams also highlighted a 37% rise in fuel and automotive spending to $62 million (with a significant $10 rise per transaction) and an 8.55% rise in spending on home and recreation-related purchases to $165 million.

A solid $427 million of the overall spend came from Hamiltonians, while the rest of Waikato shoppers spent $192 million and those from outside Waikato $92 million. Those figures were similar in percentage terms to the previous year.

Investment in new builds in the CBD, such as the regional theatre, Union Square, NZ Blood and ACC would eventually “bring hundreds of workers into the CBD,” Ms Williams predicted which would make businesses perform better in the coming financial year as well.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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