Faith in SC economy strong

JOANNE BENNETT
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013

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South Canterbury people have faith in their local economy - their confidence built on the backbone of the dairy and building industries.

The latest Regional Economic Confidence survey shows Cantabrians are leading New Zealand when it comes to confidence in their local economy.

The survey found 65 per cent of households in Canterbury are expecting good economic times in their region over the coming year. Economic optimism in the region is at its highest level in a decade, according to the survey, which was conducted from December 1 to December 10, with a nationwide sample size of 1569.

South Canterbury Master Builders' president Richard Geary agreed with the survey's findings.

"There's absolutely a lot of faith in the economy here. There's a lot of spending going on, especially from the dairy industry, and a lot of spinoff from that.

"Factories are building big storage facilities, and farms are employing more staff," Mr Geary said.

Chamber of Commerce president Tony Howey said there was "a fair bit of confidence for sure".

"When the agriculture sector is happy, the region is happy," Mr Howey said.

"With Holcim investing in the port, and the farming sector . . . that's linked to houses going up. You can see the rural areas, communities and schools building up and going forward."

Dairy spokesperson for Federated Farmers Ryan O'Sullivan said the Fonterra payout was starting to feed through to the community.

"The dairy dollars are circulating - from buying implements, wages, farm values and stock values, to capital expenditure, farm conversions, and fertiliser and seed for arable farmers, the business filters through to the region."

Southland was the next highest region expecting good economic times ahead, with 46 per cent of people surveyed saying they felt optimistic.

The Canterbury figure included Christchurch where the post-quakes building boom is under way.

The influence of the dairy sector on the economy also had a positive impact on Southland, Taranaki and the Waikato, whose confidence levels reached 46 per cent, 42 per cent, and 39 per cent respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum, confidence remains very bleak at the northern tip of the North Island, reflecting the legacy of a housing bust and a series of droughts.

Confidence also continues to be subdued in Wellington and Otago, suggesting the continued heavy weight of government cutbacks on those region's economies.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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