Saving Kerepehi

An interesting article in the Herald:

The tiny Waikato town of Kerepehi once resembled one of those semi-deserted rural communities unkindly referred to as “zombie towns”.

The dairy factory had long ceased operations, the War Memorial Hall and domain were seldom used and a close-knit rural community – which proudly sent 15 soldiers to World War I and 49 to World War II – mustered only 429 residents last census night.

But this dot on State Highway 2, between Ngatea and Paeroa, is emerging as an industrial and food technology hub.

Industrial sections are both well serviced and relatively cheap, proximity to two major ports has been noted far and wide and the moniker “Edmonds Town” seems most apt; like the famous baking powder this place seems “sure to rise”.

Transformation began a few years ago, when the Hauraki District Council spent $9 million upgrading the town’s water treatment plant to accommodate existing farms, plus future industrial growth. The council also approved a plant to process waste water from food processing.

Then Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga led an economic delegation to China and Taiwan to promote Kerepehi and its useful proximity to both Tauranga and Auckland Ports.

In 2014 the previously derelict dairy factory was taken over by Chinese-owned icecream manufacturer Allied Faxi Food Company.

The plant has been converted into an export-focused ice cream manufacturing plant, employing 15 staff sourced from local townships including: Kerepehi, Ngatea, Paeroa and Thames. Plans exist to ramp up workforce numbers to 50 by the end of the year, as offshore demand for product grows.

So the Council invested in some infrastructure and went out and sought foreign investment. And the result is a revival.

Some 23 industrial building sites immediately opposite the dairy factory have been tagged for future development. Seven of these – from 2020sq m to 12,392sq m – have been sold through Bayleys Hamilton.

Commercial and industrial sales specialist Josh Smith credits the visionary council with the success of Kerepehi’s Hauraki Park food hub.

He points out that the council removed development contribution fees, making it cheaper for developers to build new premises. Savings were passed on to incoming tenants or owner/occupiers.

“Hauraki District Council has taken some bold and innovative moves to attract new business to the region, and that’s a strategy which has certainly paid off. Employment is on the up and economic activity in the region has grown through on-going building and construction project work being undertaken,” he said.

Sounds like the Council is doing a good job.

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