■ Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, speaking at the recent Stellenbosch Business Tourism Indaba at Cavali Wine and Stud Farm.
Cape Town - While doom and gloom hangs over the national economy because of the land issue and other factors, the Western Cape attracted R2.7 billion worth of investments and created 1173 direct jobs in the past financial year.

The province’s investment promotion arm, Wesgro, said it also facilitated business agreements to the value of R2.6bn that led to 590 jobs being created.

These achievements are against the set targets for 2017/18 of between R750million and R1.1bn for investments facilitated, a 500 to 800 target for direct jobs created and between R100m and R200m for business agreements.

These figures were contained in a city council report on Wesgro and other investment drivers in the city. Mayor Patricia de Lille said the city council would continue to invest in infrastructure to attract more foreign investment.

“The figures of Wesgro are there for all to see and we can see the work they are doing. The city (council) is obligated to invest in infrastructure so that we can create an environment that is conducive for business to thrive. Wesgro remains responsible for getting the investment, we will build the city,” De Lille said.

Economist Mike Schussler said 2018 was tough for the country, but there were glimpses of hope. “Nationally there have been several issues, but in the Western Cape, where the drought has been a massive issue, there was good growth.

“The Western Cape is not that dependent on minerals like in Gauteng and the North West.

“It’s a more service-based economy and the infrastructure is good. What we need now is the clear direction and we need to get past this uncertainty,” Schussler said.

“Business will grow when there is good infrastructure. Once we get past the uncertainty with the land, we get down to business again,” he said.

Wesgro chief executive Tim Harris said in attempts to maximise and harness growth potential, they were undertaking a strategic review of their business growth services unit.

Assisting the unit, Wesgro has partnered with students from the executive master’s in leadership programme at the McDonough School of Business, at Georgetown University in the US.

In the 2016/17 financial year, Wesgro’s investment unit recorded R1.14bn through expansion projects, compared to R987m attributed to new investments.

These figures stress the importance of enhancing Wesgro’s capacity to retain and nurture existing investments to further boost the economy.

The head of Wesgro’s Investment Business Growth Services, Lindokuhle Ntanti, said: “The importance of investment after-care is often overlooked, especially locally.

“Our unit’s commitment to re-imagining and redefining our after-care programme shows our dedication to current investors in our ambit of facilitation and advocacy, and will hopefully attract other corporates who have not yet made use of our full set of services.”

Meanwhile, Business Process Enabling SA (BPESA) has assisted 11 small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) with business support in the city.

BPESA has facilitated more than R811m worth of investments to date, which has resulted in the creation of 3383 direct jobs.

It has also trained 511 people and hosted 12 industry events which 2715 people attended.

The Cape Town Fashion Council assisted 107 SMMEs and 74 black economic empowerment firms.

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Cape Argus