Kapiti Businesses Question ‘Open for Business’ Council

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Posted by Joanna Piatek for Jacinda Thorn on 14 September 2018

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Kāpiti Businesses Question ‘Open for Business’ Council

Kāpiti Coast, Thursday 13 September 2018 - Kāpiti Coast businesses are questioning the Kāpiti Coast District Council on its goal of being known for an ‘open for business’ approach after a survey has revealed many don’t believe it is.

In its Economic Development Strategy, the Council identified the need to be ‘Open for Business’, with a specific focus on; engaging fully with businesses; ensuring there are no unnecessary impediments to growth; it’s easy to navigate through regulatory processes, and a customer-focused culture is embedded across the Council. However, 48 per cent of businesses surveyed by the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce don’t believe the Council is ‘open for business’. More than 30 per cent said they didn’t know.

Heather Hutchings, Chair of the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce says the survey results are important and quantify the struggles some businesses have reported to the Chamber.

“Increasingly we’re hearing that ‘there is a lack of willingness to engage’ there is a lack of ‘transparency’ in the way Council staff interact with businesses; ‘staff lack the necessary knowledge’ and look for ‘big blocks’; ‘poor customer service’ no ‘commercial acumen’ and ‘answers are more negative than positive’ - it is clear that it’s daunting for businesses to interact with the Council, and it doesn’t create a friendly place to establish a business,” says Heather Hutchings.

The survey has found most businesses interact with the Council between one to three times a year, and the average rate of their experience is three out of five.

“These results echo feedback we hear most often - slow response times, poor customer service, inflexible staff. The Chamber is concerned about this, particularly given the region has unprecedented opportunities for growth. We need the Kāpiti Coast District Council to be true champions of growth, and not a growth handbrake if we’re to succeed.

“Since the introduction of the new Long-Term Plan and the new Commercial Rates, the disconnect between the Council and businesses has become more apparent. Beyond normal consultation processes around the plan and the actual rates bill, there was no additional communication to businesses about the changes, what they mean and what they are liable for in the future.

“Many consider being ‘open for business’ is just a slogan - a concept that hasn’t been translated into reality. This is despite repeated assurances Kapiti has a business-friendly council, that’s ready for growth - just last week the Mayor spoke openly about the Council being ‘open for business’ at a function for the Electra Business Awards. We need the Council’s actions to match its narrative if our economy is to really grow and accelerate,” says Heather Hutchings.

The Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce exists to advance the economy by creating wealth and employment and solve local business issues by providing a collective voice for business in Kapiti. Over 300 members in Kapiti belong to the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce to stay connected, network and gain knowledge and support from our local membership.

 

For more information, please contact:
Heather Hutchings, Kāpiti Chamber Chair | 021 0696143 | chair@kapitichamber.org.nz
Julene Hope, Chair, Chamber Advocacy Committee | 021 500709
Jacinda Thorn, Public Relations | 027 3970616 | jacinda@delaneythorn.com

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