December 10, 2023

Heart of Te Awamutu: Bold bid to revitalise town

Ray White Te Awamutu principal/owner and commercial landlord Gregg Ticklepenny. Photo / Dean Taylor

“If we do nothing, nothing will change.” That’s the message from Gregg Ticklepenny, commercial landlord and principal/owner at Ray White Te Awamutu.

Speaking in reference to a new BID (Business Improvement District) proposal called Heart of Te Awamutu, commercial landlords/property owners within a geographically defined area in Te Awamutu’s centre are being asked to vote yes or no for the introduction of a modest rate increase via council vote over the next month.

Ticklepenny believes the time is right to introduce the rate.

“Although we’ve had a tough few years with Covid restrictions and inflation, we need to make things happen. If we do nothing, nothing will change.”

Being led by the retail subcommittee within the Te Awamutu Business Chamber, Heart of Te Awamutu is a plan to dedicate the additional funds collected through the rate increase exclusively to initiatives to encourage more spending in Te Awamutu.

Te Awamutu Business Chamber chief executive Shane Walsh says BIDs have yielded remarkable success in other New Zealand towns and cities.

“The idea originally started in England to combat the fact that many high streets had empty shops and were effectively dying.

“BIDs have revitalised communities, boosted local economies, and enhanced the quality of life for residents and visitors alike,” he says.

“At their core, BIDs pool resources, collaborate with local organisations, coordinate efforts and strategically invest in common goals.

“The rates are being generated from the commercial buildings and their tenants. Then they have a say on how that money is spent.”

Walsh believes commercial landlords and retailers/tenants in Te Awamutu will all benefit from increased business.

“It’s about creating a vibrant town where there’s lots happening for the Te Awamutu residents and businesses,” says Walsh.

“From filling empty shops and attracting new businesses to town to the benefits of collaborative initiatives such as events and festivals, the evidence is there to support the introduction of a BID.”

Kirsty Walker, director of Showcase Jewellery on Alexandra St, is supportive of the idea.

“Although we know as tenants the cost will be passed on to us, it’s a small amount and we feel that the potential benefits outweigh the cost,” she says.

Fellow Alexandra St retailer Lynn Dill, owner of Nic & Me, adds that after a tough few years operating during Covid and in a recession, the general feeling amongst retailers is a desire to move forward and make things happen for themselves and the town.

“We see the BID as a proactive initiative that will bring more prosperity to the town,” says Dill.

“While it will cost us slightly more in our rent, we hope that will be paid back tenfold when the BID starts delivering on its potential.”

The proposed annual total from a BID rate collection is $50,000.

Walsh says this equates to an average of 8.5 per cent increase in rates.

“The funds collected from the rate will be supplemented by other private and public funding to pay for initiatives such as events and promotions.”

Waipā District Council has agreed to put the BID proposal to eligible voters. They will receive notification in the mail and will have until November 20 to cast their vote.

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