Upper Hutt City spends $375,000 of ratepayer money to help fund businesses

Stores inside The Mall are just some of the Upper Hutt businesses to receive funding from the council.
ROSEMARY MCLENNAN/FAIRFAX NZ

Stores inside The Mall are just some of the Upper Hutt businesses to receive funding from the council.

Upper Hutt ratepayers have forked out more than $375,000 in the past two years to help businesses set up shop in the city.

Eighteen businesses, including hairdressers, retailers, fast food joints, a contracting firm and a real estate company, are reaping the benefits of the Upper Hutt City Council's business incentive fund.

The fund was set up in October 2014 to support businesses looking to start-up, relocate or expand in Upper Hutt. 

Since then, $375,836 has been spent - $160,836 in the 2014 financial year and $215,000, so far, in the 2015 financial year.

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The council say it has contributed to the creation of hundreds of jobs and a $3.5 million investment in the city.

Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams said taxing people more, through rates, for corporate welfare was not economic development.

"It is economic trickery benefiting only the favoured businesses.

"Take the example of Prodigy Hair. There are at least 29 hairdressing firms in Upper Hutt, but the council picks this one out for a handout."

Previously, the council defended its corporate welfare scheme on the basis that it was creating jobs, Williams said.

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"Of course the politicians and officials ignore that every cent is drained from the very community they are claiming to help. It is intellectually dishonest.

"Upper Hutt ratepayers are smart enough to see that this isn't economic development, it's robbing the poor to pay the rich."

Upper Hutt City Council business development services director Steve Taylor said the businesses were approved incentive funding on the basis of their contribution to new jobs, capital investment, or the presentation or structural safety of Upper Hutt premises.

Taylor pointed out that the money was paid on completion of each project and on receipt of invoices, he said.

"The 2015-16 funding has resulted in a positive contribution to new jobs and new investment in excess of the 200 new jobs and $3.5m of investment...

"In its first year, the policy resulted in the direct or indirect positive impact on over 200 new jobs, and new investment in the community."

The grants supported businesses with consent fee waivers and rates remissions and can assist those fitting out new premises, or earthquake strengthening of an existing building.

The policy was set up to stimulate economic growth within Upper Hutt by encouraging development that provides employment and GDP growth, Taylor said.

The amount of funding received was dependent on capital value and the number of new jobs created.

The business incentive funding is run in accordance with the council's Economic Development Stimulus Policy.

Businesses that have received council grants:

  • Silverstream bakery
  • Vibe
  • Trentham hospitality
  • Paper Plus
  • Leda
  • Bayleys real estate
  • Lincraft
  • Subway Main Street
  • Maidstone Sports (The Mall HCSC)
  • Vogue on Geange
  • Vogue (The Mall HCSC)
  • Bed Bath Beyond (The Mall HCSC)
  • Udy Contracting
  • Blue Pencil
  • Prodigy Hair
  • BurgerFuel
  • Miro Cinema
  • Fets (Fire and Emergency Training Solutions)

 - Stuff

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