Mossel Bay judged best place to do business in SA

Posted on Tue August 26, 2014.

Finweek - one of South Africa’s prestigious financial magazines - has named Mossel Bay the best place in the country to do business.

The survey excluded the cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, eThekwini, and Tshwane - South Africa’s four largest metropolitan areas - in order to “focus on up-and-coming places to do business.”

According to the cover story in the April 12 edition of the magazine, “After applying financial and non-financial indices from Government reports, business organisations and financial intelligence agencies, Finweek has whittled down a list of candidate municipalities to 10 that aren’t only business friendly but show the greatest potential for growth and opportunity. These score well in a combination of gauges, including impressive economic growth levels, budgets for economic development, geographical positioning, large populations and tailor-made business incentive packages.”

The report put Mossel Bay Municipality ahead of Rustenburg in the North West (in second place), and Msunduzi in KwaZulu-Natal (third). The city of George, at 6th place, was the only other Western Cape municipality in the top ten.

Mossel Bay - which has a population of 130,000 - was found to have an economic growth rate of 6.5% between 2005 and 2010, with the Municipality spending R6,257.00 per year oneach citizen. The Municipality generates 65% of its own revenue, and its audit status is given as ‘Clean.’ In addition, the municipal area has the “Lowest number of people living in poverty (13%) compared to the 40% national average,” while, “Almost 50% of the population has a matric, and 17% have some form of post-matric qualifications.”

“This is an enormous honour for us and for Mossel Bay,” said the town’s mayor, Alderlady Marie Ferreira (DA).

“We’re fortunate to have a formidable team of directors and staff who are all committed to making local government work - and Finweek’s vote means that their dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“In itself, that’s a great reward,” she said.

The municipal manager, Dr. Michele Gratz, said that the article touched on an important point - the fact that the Municipality is prepared to engage with everyone in order to ensure that it produces an enabling environment in which business can flourish.

“We’ve just completed a Participatory Assessment of Competitive Advantage (PACA) process, during which we consulted with people from across the political and economic spectrums.

“The support was fantastic - hundreds of people turned up for twenty different workshops, and their well-thought out and practical suggestions have now been incorporated into a draft economic development plan which will shortly be tabled at Council.

“The key word here is ‘Participatory:’ the PACA process was a community-wide project, and because of the depth of our engagement with one another, we believe that the business community will take ownership of the strategy - and that that will result in continuing economic growth.”

She said, too, that the Finweek article was, “Spot on when it said that the municipality is reviewing by-laws that may inhibit economic development.

“We understand that every economy is driven by its businesses, and that our role is to smooth the way so that businesspeople can operate efficiently and effectively. Maintenance of infrastructure and operational issues are of paramount importance and are critical factors for all businesses.

“To help us in this, Mossel Bay Municipality is fortunate in having an excellent team of Directors and some very good officials who go beyond the call of duty to ensure and improve service delivery.

“At the same time, the Municipality has also launched a series of poverty alleviation strategies which appear to be bearing some fruit in lowering the number of people living in poverty.“

René Bongers - the chairman of Mossel Bay Tourism, a Section 21 company funded largely by the Municipality and charged with the task of marketing the town - congratulated the Mayor and her Council on the results of Finweek’s survey.

“Mossel Bay has always been one of South Africa’s preferred holiday destinations, and this accolade is an important milestone in positioning it as a business and investment destination, too.”

He said that the PACA process had identified tourism and the environment as the two golden threads that run through the local economy.

“Tourism is an enormous contributor - both financially, and in terms of the number of jobs it creates - and there’s no doubt that it has grown as a result of the riches of the natural environment of Mossel Bay.

“Having a strong Municipality working hand-in-hand with a well organised and vocal environmental lobby, I have no doubt that the town will continue on its current upward path - whilst always retaining the natural beauty and sense of place that have attracted visitors for generations” he said.

Alderlady Ferreira congratulated her officials and the businesspeople of Mossel Bay on their contributions to the nomination.

“Thank you all for caring for your town, and for your loyalty to your community,” she said.