Port St Johns Development Agency
"Transforming the Socio-Economic Landscape"
The Port St. Johns Development Agency represents a humble and earnest attempt by the local Municipality to work with various partners, including business, civil society and government in all spheres, in identifying sustainable business opportunities that can be turned into drivers of accelerated economic growth and job creation.
The Port St. Johns Municipality, by facilitating the establishment of the Agency, seeks to transform the socio-economic landscape and to realise economic growth & sustainable job opportunities.
Despite its natural beauty, Port St. Johns is host to a tragic socio-economic reality where:
- More than 80% of the local population is unemployed
- Over 50% of house holds earn less than R18 000 per annum
- Close to 40% of people living in the rural node can neither read nor write
The Port St. Johns Municipality, by facilitating the establishment of the agency, in collaboration with the Industrial Development Corporation, seeks to transform the socio-economic landscape, and to realize economic growth and sustainable job opportunities.
The agency acts as a dedicated operational arm of the Port St. Johns Municipality, for the purposes of defining and implementing a broadly-defined economic, social and environmental development programme for the Municipality. In giving practical expression to the above, the Agency focuses on the following specific activities:
- Using Municipal-owned land and buildings to leverage private sector investment in the local tourism industry
- Establishing programmes and facilities to kick-start new and existing small to medium enterprises to ensure that local people, especially the youth and women, participate meaningfully in the mainstream economy of Port St. Johns.
- Managing job-creation and poverty alleviation projects on behalf of national and provincial government departments.
- Facilitating strategic developments such as upmarket housing and golf estate development. In addition, the Agency is engaged in implementing a branding and marketing strategy for Port St. Johns, and huge strides have already been covered in this regard
The agency is managing several projects at varying stages of development, ranging from conseptualization to implimentation. The following are details of each of the projects:
Mangroove Holiday Camp: This is a fourteen hectare, municipal owned property located at Second Beach, consisting of a number of accommodation facilities and a conference venue. The Agency intends facilitating a Public Private Partnership, in order to secure financing to upgrade and properly market the facility. Current activities include surveying the site, conducting high- level Business Viability and Environmental Impact studies.
First Beach Camp Site
This is a water front development at the Umzimvubu River Mouth. It comprises two properties, one a 3.5 ha camp site overlooking First Beach, consisting of dilapidated chalets and a retail building, as well as another piece of land, overlooking the river mouth. The latter will be a greenfield development. The First Beach Development will also be a Public-Private Partnership, and will be linked to other local, private sector-driven developments at the town entrance.
Upgrade of the Central Business District
The condition of the physical infrastructure in the CBD area, as well as the state of the buildings leaves a lot to be desired. The status quo is not conductive to the projection of a good image and brand for the town, discourages shopping by locals, and can be a prohibitive factor in securing new investments in the town, especially for the retail sector.
The areas of the focus for the CBD Upgrade initiative will include upgrading the road surface, signage system, water and sanitation, as well as the beautification of the towm entrance. By-laws will be used to encourage property owners to improve and upgrade their buildings and/or build their properties and unused land, through a package of incentives and penalties.
The programme is meant to stimulate the emergence and growth of SMMEs and local businesses. The agency has established a partnership with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, and through this, a comprehensive Enterprise Development Programme is being formulated. In the near future, this partnership will include the DTI's Small Enterprise Development Agency.
Elements of the programme will encompass the following:
- A business awareness programme, characterised by a series of workshops spread throughout the Port St Johns Municipality Area, as well as the use of information pamphlets, translated into Xhosa. This process is currently underway.
- A Business Plan Competition, designed to encourage the generation of innovative business ideas. The entrants will be taken through a training programme to help vouchers to buy material and supplies needed to start the winning business idea.
- Training and capacity building exercise to elevate the skills level of interested entrepreneurs.
- The design and construction of an SMME Village, to house and mentor emerging enterprises. There are no appropriate facilities in the area at the moment that are sufficiently equiped to support local enterprises.
Support programmes regarding product development and marketing access.
The main sector will be high-value agriculture, tourism (including arts and crafts), manufacturing and retail.
Golf Course Residential Development
The agency has been mandated to facilitate the development of an upmarket townhouse complex at the existing golf course. The develoment will cover 11000 square metres of land. Currently an environmental scan of the site underway.
In addition to the above, the Agency is managing the implementation of five projects funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. These will not only help create hundreds of jobs in the construction phase, but will facilitate economic growth through investment in infrastructure and human resources.
- Securing funding from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation to initiate and complete a process of drawing up a Master Plan for Port St. Johns. This is important because feasibility studies and land surveys will take place in the properties identified for investments. Once this is done, the sites will be catalogued properly as viable investment opportunities, with costing and architectural impressions completed.
- Managing and provincial government funded project for a year that created one hundred and sixty five jobs for rural families.
- Initiating an enterprise Development Programme in partnership with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation to stimulate enterprise growth and development.
- Appointment by the department by the department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to manage job-creation project worth over R20m.
- Security a partnership with New Zealand's Volunteer Service Abroard, which will see the placement of a Town Planner with the Port St. Johns Development Agency for a period of 24 months.
- Completing the technical assesment of the Umzimvubu River, in order to ascertain measures that may be taken to "rehabilate" it.
- Acquiring computers and office furniture from the European Union to boost the effectiveness of the agency.
- Succesfully hosting the 2005 Mahala Jazz Festival and the 2006 Port St. Johns Jazz Festival.
- Completing the branding strategy for the town, as well as the design and hosting of a website.