On 13 December 2017, Knysna Municipality, in partnership with the Eden District Municipality (Eden DM), launched an initiative called “Invest Knysna”.
This initiative will be facilitated by Knysna Municipality’s Economic Development Department, who invited representatives from various business industries to establish whether they are ready to make use of opportunities that might come their way through government coordinated and facilitated investment recruitment campaigns.
The Executive Mayor of Knysna Municipality, Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies, welcomed the guests and as an introduction, explained the aim of the initiative, which is to revitalise a stressed local business sector. “On a national level there are a variety of factors that have a negative impact on economic growth, for example: political instability, junk status, higher petrol prices and slow retail growth. In Knysna, we see businesses close their doors more than ever before. The drought and fire have affected many businesses. Currently tourism is the main driving factor of the local economy and it is affected by seasonality,” she said.
The first speaker, Ms Ilse van Schalkwyk, Manager: Local Economic Development gave a brief presentation on the vision and purpose of Invest Knysna.
Followed by the Executive Mayor of Eden DM, Cllr Memory Booysen, who explained the processes followed and research embarked on, in determining the most popular brand and name for the district. “During our research we discovered that brand confusion exists when referring to the name ‘Eden’. Our region is known by too many different names around the world. Therefore, Council decided to ‘tap’ into the main economic driving force, which is tourism, and take on the name, Garden Route District Municipality,” he said.
Furthermore, Cllr Booysen elaborated on the challenges that the district faced regarding solid waste management, which resulted in a visit to Sweden during September 2017. “We all know that the Swedes are the leading experts when it comes to solid waste management. Thanks to our visit, I am accompanied by a delegation from Sweden who has come to our region to examine our infrastructure with the prospect of potential investment opportunities,” Cllr Booysen said. Lastly, he reminded guests about the upcoming Garden Route Investment Conference which is due to take place on 7 and 8 March 2018, as well as the importance thereof for the region.
Mr Paul Hoffman of the South Cape Economic Partnership (SCEP), shared information about the Municipal Investment Readiness Checklist that was designed as a guideline and self-assessment tool for municipalities. Mr Reginald Salmons of Eden DM Skills Development Section presented Skills Development Game-Changers and Mr Kam Chetty, Municipal Manager of Knysna Municipality talked about the opportunities and linkages for local businesses.
After the presentations, Knysna Mayor and the Municipal Manager of Eden DM, Mr Monde Stratu, offered businesses owners the opportunity to ask questions, which they answered.
In conclusion, Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies said, “Invest Knysna will make sure our Municipality is well prepared for the Garden Route Investment Conference. We will have a Knysna pavilion at this conference, hosted by Eden District Municipality and SCEP, to showcase selected local businesses and their investment offerings. The conference will also attract many national and international investors who are interested in forming partnerships with our district”.