Incoming councils are being urge to focus more on supporting
their local business community, following the release
yesterday of a new survey that reveals widespread
dissatisfaction among small to medium-sized enterprises (SME)
The SME sector employs the majority of New Zealanders. The
latest MYOB business monitor report shows 29% of the
country's SME operators are dissatisfied with the support of
their local council while just 15% are fully satisfied.
MYOB New Zealand executive director Scott Gardiner says it is
not a glowing report card for the country's local authorities
and the survey highlighted the fact councils had a long way
to go to win the full backing of SMEs in their local region.
From gaining trading consents to the myriad regulations
governing how companies operated, local government had an an
enormous influence over how easy it was to do business in New
Zealand, he said.
''But as we have seen regularly in the MYOB business monitor,
businesses around the country don't feel they have the
support of their local councils.''
Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive John
Scandrett said the survey might provide some enlightenment on
SME operator views in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch
but he doubted a similar level of comfort could be taken from
the regional feedback components.
''Across Otago and Southland, there are more then 10 local
council authorities and to run a ruler over the collective
operations of all, and conclude a 30% SME dissatisfaction
rating is evident everywhere, must push the boundaries of
There would always be a range of business owners who felt
''external forces'' must carry some responsibility.
Some would say the local council should be doing more to
promote the city or should ease up on building or resource
consenting processes, Mr Scandrett said.
Taking Dunedin as an example, it was widely recognised it had
an economic development strategy ''up there and out there''
and anyone looking at the detail would see supporting
business vitality and making it easier to do business was the
Other regional local bodies had similar strategies.
''It may be the promotion and understanding of these has
fallen short on some SME people being appropriately apprised
of what's on offer in their own backyard,'' he said.
Otago Chamber of Commerce president Peter McIntyre said the
report was damning on all councils.
''It shows how much power councils have on the business
community. If councils become more efficient and concentrate
on what councils are supposed to do, the impact for the
national economy is huge.''
Like Mr Scandrett, Mr McIntyre praised Dunedin's economic
strategy, which had a focus on job creation and economic
Cities like Dunedin had ''wonderful'' infrastructure but the
city needed jobs and economic growth to keep rates
Mr Gardiner said it was clear from the results local
authorities in the regions needed to work much harder to
support their local business community.
''SMEs are the economic lifeblood of regional New Zealand.
The communities these councils represent rely on them for
jobs and regional development opportunities, as well as the
broad range of services they provide.
''The support of SMEs should be a major focus for councils as
they shape and manage their policies.''
In the sectors, dissatisfaction with council support was
strongest in the transport and warehousing industry, where
35% of operators were dissatisfied and just 4% satisfied.
Dissatisfaction was also strong in the retail and hospitality
sector, where 36% were dissatisfied and 13% satisfied.
Construction and trades businesses showed 30% dissatisfaction
and 12% satisfied.
Satisfaction with the support of councils was highest in the
manufacturing industry (16% satisfied and 28% dissatisfied)
and the business and professional sector (17% satisfied and
Mr Gardiner said dissatisfaction was strongest where business
operators relied on local government for key aspects of their
''It seems from the data the more SMEs have to do with their
councils, the more likely they are to be expressing