Leaders underline importance of region's growth

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 09/07/2014

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Manawatu's main areas of economic opportunities have been given the nod of approval by the leaders of the two biggest political parties.

Prime Minister John Key said growing the agriculture sector and supporting it by a strong research base was crucial. "Your university is a critical part of Palmerston North, so making sure that Massey University stays strong and is a pre-eminent force in science and agricultural is very important," he said.

"Agricultural is an important part of the community, so balancing that desire for economic growth and expansion of agricultural at a time when we preserve our environmental credentials is also critically important [for the city]."

Labour leader David Cunliffe said growing innovative manufacturing options in the region, as well as bolstering food innovation and agribusiness, were important. "We're strong supporters of Massey campus and making sure it's part of a journey to a higher value future," he said.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has launched a set of 14 regional investment profiles promoting investment opportunities in New Zealand. According to the snapshot of Manawatu-Whanganui, the region has strength in primary production and agricultural research - both points highlighted by Key and Cunliffe during their visits to Palmerston North last week.

Cunliffe said Labour's regional development plans would unlock more opportunities through manufacturing policy and tax credits, which would really help Palmerston North.

The city's FoodHQ, a world centre for food innovation and research, provided the region with a suite of production, manufacturing and biopharmaceutical expertise and opportunities, which tied in with Labour's economic plans. He listed the most important factors as: Jobs, clean environment, strong research establishments.

"Palmerston North is a city for the future," he said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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