13 Jun 23

KZN Comeback: Partnership of private sector, community and government

Hammarsdale Cato Ridge Development Association (HCRDA) is a unique collective of private sector companies working with government and the local community to solve shared problems. CEO, John White says there is massive potential in the region, especially through the strides made to establish strong relationships across community, government and private sector. These relationships are making a huge difference to people and businesses in the area.

Improvements led by the private sector

The HCRDA was formed in 2020, during the many challenges faced in COVID by businesses and the Hammarsdale Cato Ridge community. Since then, HCRDA has evolved and grown to a multi-faceted collective with strong relationships across all sectors. The positive attitude of the group’s members and eagerness to which each person responds to issues is a fantastic indication of the positivity in the region and the resilient nature of business in KwaZulu-Natal.

When this initiative first formed, during those tough COVID months, many people faced hardships. The group saw 15 private sector companies band together to solve issues from water and sanitation with eThekwini Municipality to potholes, road infrastructure improvements, increasing employment opportunities, development and many more.  These efforts are led by the private sector and draws on the expertise of all stakeholders in the region, namely local chiefs, community, business and the eThekwini Municipality.

CEO, John White, shares how establishing strong relationships across the community and inviting all groups to participate in meaningful dialogue has made phenomenal progress in the region. The group now has 59 members and White sees new applications on his desk each day. HCRDA has resonated across the community and the more businesses sign on, the more they are able to achieve. As a result, we are seeing positive change happen within the area, driven by the private sector.

Road upgrades

A shot of a road being resurfaced in a residential neighborhood in La Canada, California. Half of the street is paved and the other is unpaved. The machinery is lined up and working together.

The issue of potholes has been a widely discussed problem that has been plaguing roads across the country. It was no different when the group swiftly took action to upgrade 2.5km of road. Through a collaborative effort between private sector and government leadership, the group was able to fix this road.

It’s not just a case of getting the job done, HCRDA source local talent with the aim of supporting business within their geographic region. A KwaZulu-Natal black-owned SMME was tasked to carry out the necessary repairs, resulting in a phenomenal accomplishment which caused waves of positive change for all.

John shares that it was gratifying to see that once word spread through the private sector about the road initiative that donations came flooding in. This success story is testament to the power of collaboration that can be achieved when the private sector and government work together towards a common goal.

Creating more jobs

man at work

Taking a holistic view to create more opportunities for employment, HCRDA has created an online recruitment portal where job seekers and companies can interact. It is a pro-active approach to really help companies source talent from the local community. In turn, the community feel supported by local business and understand that they are truly invested in uplifting the people of the Outer West.

According to White, it’s not only about convenience it also alleviates the stress and negativity that goes hand in hand with seeking employment by all parties. This is cost-effective and factors in daily stresses for job seekers and companies. There is more trust going forward that employment will improve.

Ongoing community engagement

Making the effort to engage with the community is vital to ensuring the longevity of positive growth in Hammarsdale and Cato Ridge. HCRDA has made it their job to spread good news happening on a daily basis. They have created a Facebook page where everyday they publish a good news story. It could be about local food drives, employment posts, achievement by schools or community get togethers. The point is to keep engaging, sharing positivity, hope and inspiration.

Too often people feel negative because they don’t see the good that has already been done and continues to be done. John explains that it’s not just a one way platform, they want people to engage and give feedback. Dialogue is essential to continue the good work that is being done in KwaZulu-Natal’s Outer West.

Major business hub growth

Durban’s Outer West is already an established business hub with some leading names operating in the area. Safal Steel’s investment 20 years ago has added significant value to the area, and since then, several major companies have followed suit including Maersk who have invested in a container yard that will improve logistics across KZN. Bakers Transport has been an established part of the community for years, as well as Rainbow Chickens who are in the process of developing what they call ‘double Hammarsdale’, creating two shifts in Hammarsdale. In the last 7 years, Mr Price, Ackermans, and Pep have all established facilities in the Outer West, adding to the region’s appeal.

There is increasing international appeal as well with Kerry Ingredients setting up a manufacturing facility in the area, and SRF Flexipak, a multinational company making a staggering R1 billion investment in the region.

Transformational energy

Coupled with links to the new dry port, the Outer West is a prime location for businesses looking to establish themselves or expand their operations. Hammarsdale Cato Ridge will soon be the site of a new utility facility photovoltaic farm. The production of photovoltaic goods will help alleviate pressure on the national grid, giving nearby businesses the option for alternate sources of power. There is also a new smeltor coming on board and the production of core metal will be of significant economic value to the area.

The flat, expansive land in Hammarsdale is attractive to companies and is located next to the N3 highway, a major national transport route. The stage is set for major development. John shared that with the significant focus and energy going into the area they are anticipating further growth and development as they look towards the next 25 to 30 years.

Dry Port

KwaZulu-Natal’s Outer West is not an area that many people are aware of but that is all about to change. There is massive investment by local and international investors, and massive development that will unfold over the next 25 to 30 years. KwaZulu-Natal’s new dry port is to be established in the region and this is going to help with job creation and boosting the economic wealth of the area.

According to John, KwaZulu-Natal has hardly scratched the surface of its potential! The dry port is coming and it’s going to bring phenomenal change. There will be a huge investment from international industry and there’s plenty to keep them coming back to KwaZulu-Natal. From the beaches to the Midlands and the Drakensburg and of course our big 5 game reserves, there is so much to attract people. The opportunities here are as vast as the landscape itself, and John is committed to realising a bright future for both KwaZulu-Natal and the Outer West.

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