Metro lays out welcome mat

Firms encouraged to engage with city

An open invitation has been issued for companies to meet with the new Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to improve the regional economy.

It came yesterday from acting municipal manager Johann Mettler after a meeting with leading Bay poultry producer Sovereign Foods in Uitenhage last week.

Mettler said a steady stream of businesses had already sought engagement with the new administration since the August local government elections, and more were encouraged to do so.

But he was at pains to point out that engagements with the municipality would not give favour to any particular business.

Stressing the importance of the private sector attending planning meetings hosted by the municipality, Mettler said: “These meetings provide an open platform.

“Being transparent about our dealings gives businesses a better understanding of the metro’s progress on key issues as well as financial plans which consider budget constraints and scarce sources of funding.”

In an effort to build dialogue with the new administration, Sovereign Foods hosted a metro delegation led by deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani in Uitenhage.

It was the first formal interaction between the poultry producer and the new leadership and expectations are that the resulting closer cooperation will have a lasting impact for the region.

One of Sovereign Foods’ current concerns is it has agreed to donate a portion of its land to the Rocklands Intermediate Farm School so it can expand, but the approval process has been delayed for several years.

The company – one of the Bay’s biggest employers with more than 3 000 staff members and which injects around R600-million a year into the regional economy –hopes the metro can assist in fast-tracking the process.

Sovereign Foods’ chief executive said: “As business, we don’t operatein a vacuum.

“It’s important that we engage the local authority to explore ways to improve the operating environment for optimal business and entrepreneurial growth.

“Our intention is to improve on our current relationship with the metro administration and hope to solve ongoing disputes and identify effective ways in which our partnership can benefit the community.”

Coombes said the company had, this year alone, donated R300 000 towards several education and community support programmes.

Bobani said: “It is encouraging to see businesses such as Sovereign Foods making a proactive move to engage us as the new administration.

“We have an open-door policy.

“We encourage businesses to voice their concerns and suggest ways in which we can improve the business environment.

“This is key in our efforts to achieve inclusive economic growth and job creation in the metro.

 

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