A TRYING 2015 has left many Nelson Mandela Bay residents apprehensive about the year ahead, but there is hope, according to the city’s Business Chamber.
Business Chamber chief executive officer Kevin Hustler said the local, national and global economy would continue to come under immense pressure in 2016 but that he was “cautiously optimistic” about ongoing investment in the metro.
“Among the highlights of 2015 were the growth of Baywest City around the R2-billion Baywest Mall, which opened last May, the Coega Development Corporation’s record investment year, and Transnet’s continued investment of R26.7 billion in the manganese corridor.
“There were also significant investments in the automotive sector by the three big OEMs in the city,” said Hustler.
As national and multinational companies continued to invest in Nelson Mandela Bay, several up-and-coming entrepreneurs had also followed suit by growing the small business sector in the city, he said.
“We have a wealth of talent in our region and commend our young entrepreneurs who still see the business opportunities in Nelson Mandela Bay, despite the challenging economic circumstances.”
Assisting in the spread of positive stories about the region is the soon-to-be launched non-profit website Good News Daily, which is run by media and public relations company Good News Lab.
Headed up by chamber member and Top 40 Under 40 Achiever Brian Hayward, the website aims to instil pride in their region among residents.
“Through Good News Lab as well as the Good News Daily website, we are really hoping to highlight the good news stories that there are out there – from good people doing work at grassroots level in the community to great investments by businesses in the region,” said Hayward.
“We want residents to be proud of the region.”
Hayward said his company had further shown its commitment to the city by setting up shop in the redeveloped Donkin Creative Quarter, which dovetails with the greater urban renewal vision for the Central area.
According to Marios van Dongen of Bowman Property Group, who are the marketing and letting agents for the development, the Donkin Creative Quarter was poised to become a good indicator of entrepreneurial confidence in the metro.
Van Dongen said the Donkin Street side of the development was now 90 per cent let, while leasing for the Constitution Hill side had begun this month, with the various buildings scheduled for occupation from March onwards.
“The response from the creative industry has been amazing,” said Van Dongen.
“The younger market wants to come back to the CBD. This area, with its historic homes, has more character than the traditional corporate office blocks.”
He said developers’ investment in projects like the creative quarter had given young entrepreneurs the confidence to return and offered them modern infrastructure with which to run their businesses.