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Mayors newsletter for George Herald of 25 May 2023

This newsletter is being written on the eve of completing my third year in office as Executive Mayor. What an honour and privilege it has been to participate in taking George forward! On this occasion, I am reporting on some engagements that have recently taken place in relation to our economy and in shaping the strategy and approaches for increased economic activity.

Over the past two weeks, our management team have held their requisite engagements with both of Provincial and National Treasury (George is one of 17 cities in SA who report directly to National Treasury) for our draft budget to be assessed according to the criteria of being credible and fundable. George has been commended for the thorough preparation and presentation of the budget and its financial position and received approval for the presentation to Council for formal approval of the budget for 2023/24.

These engagements also enabled discussions about approaches to and complexity of incorporating renewable solutions, the maintaining and improving of infrastructure, and on economic activity.

We were invited to make a presentation to property development clients of a legal firm and a bank specialising in this sector. We covered progress over the past three years in improving management, the strategy of growing infrastructure and the work being done to update the spatial development framework and planning sphere.

A meeting with the country head of the multi-national business that has started its contact centre operations also proved to be fruitful. This enthusiastic company is already exploring how to grow their work force that will enable expansion into another workstream. This analytics, digital and AI business opens up opportunities for matriculants in the under 25 age bracket to receive training and work in the fast growing outsourcing sector where work is conducted internationally from South Africa.

I have also had the opportunity to meet Provincial Ministers for Education, Infrastructure and Economic Development to discuss the needs of a growing George. Many schools experience challenges in accommodating the growing pool of learners. The Minister is assessing the alternatives to either expand existing campuses and/or to build new facilities. As a result of financial limitations, it is likely that new financial models to fund schools will become necessary.

Detailed discussions will shortly take place regarding the build programme for roads infrastructure around George and how improvements to gravel roads can be done for key sectors such as agriculture. The need to provide additional housing at an affordable level continues to receive attention. We continue with engagements to determine the best approach and strategy to facilitate economic development across key sectors where George is a suitable location.

As always, the email address can be used for smart ideas.