In the past week I attended two important meetings that once again signify how important it is to pay attention to economic activity within George.
At the annual general meeting of the George Business Chamber, Mr Nelius van Greunen, a leading commercial farmer, addressed the attendees. He mentioned the importance of the agricultural sector for the local economy and region and that George needs to ensure it becomes more sustainable by also expanding from being pre-dominantly a “consuming” economy.
These comments are totally aligned to my philosophy that George needs to evolve towards a “producing” economy where we produce goods and services that are “exported” both nationally and internationally.
On Friday, the municipal manager, Dr Michele Gratz (now appointed for five years) and I attended a Meet and Greet Session in Cape Town where we were allocated a maximum of 20 minutes with each of the ten Provincial Ministers and the Premier to raise matters for their attention. We made full use of the opportunity to continue the discussion relating to the coordination required for increasing economic activity in George to improve job creation. There are already numerous initiatives underway that the Municipality and Provincial departments are involved in.
While we are looking closely at developing the agro-processing sector and expanding tourism event activity as examples, other niches are being explored as well. It is therefore critical that the private sector engage with us on opportunities that can be nurtured and grown. The Economic Growth and Development Strategy is currently under revision and further engagements are being arranged to foster the necessary collaboration.
It is generally accepted that George is experiencing in-migration. Some businesses are commenting that turnover is now 30% above pre-Covid-19 levels. The Municipality has been responding to these increases with increased spending on the capital budget to increase water and wastewater treatment capacity and refurbishment of existing infrastructure.
There is however an important role that George business leaders and residents need to play in their communication with the Municipality on how we can provide the enabling environment to ensure economic growth and the necessary collaboration can take place.
There is a very urgent call to Residents to participate in Census 2022 which has been extended to 30 April so that many stragglers in the Western Cape complete the Census. The Census can be completed very easily on mobile phones by using the following link: https://getcounted.statssa.gov.za/#!/home
It is essential to complete the Census because this is used to determine the Grants that National Government allocates to municipalities. George has seen rapid growth in its population and if residents fail to register we do not receive our required allocation of funding with the burden shifting to municipal accounts. Comments are welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org