Study on regional economy

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 13:30 10/07/2014

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A Government-commissioned study about optimising economic growth in Manawatu has been announced today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

Joyce and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy were to formally make the announcement during a business luncheon in Levin.

The Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Growth Study would provide an analysis of the regional economy, its comparative and competitive advantages, the constraints that needed to be addressed and the opportunities for development, as well as identifying actions needed, Joyce said.

"We haven't seen spectacular growth [in the region] in recent years and it's an opportunity to do a stocktake and say ‘well, what are the opportunities to really lift the growth rate in the region?"'

The study will be managed in partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry for Primary Industries, as well as local government, and will draw on private sector expertise.

Joyce said the study would be a more in-depth analysis of the region than the regional profile that was launched on Monday.

"It's probably the most in-depth economic study of the Manawatu-Whanganui region that has been completed in many years, if not ever, because it really is going over all of the information that is available and looking at developing those further."

The study will provide the evidence base for councils to develop a separate, regional-led action plan focusing on agribusiness.

All councils in the Horizons Regional Council area have been working together to form the central New Zealand agribusiness working group that will develop a strategy focused on understanding markets, maximising value from land, distribution infrastructure and investment.

Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor said the strategy would serve every part of the region, and this had made it easy for councils to work together.

Spearhead Manawatu spokesman Craig Nash said the working group, which he is leading, planned to take the information from the study and turn it into something viable.

"There is a huge opportunity to grow our economy, understand our markets and further develop our agribusiness sector by utilising a regional approach across all districts in the Horizons region," Nash said.

"It's important to not only conduct a study but to be able to take the knowledge and act on it."

Horizons Regional Council chairman Bruce Gordon said: "By sharing this information and working with all councils in our region to identify opportunities to grow our regional economy, we can ensure our region is a prosperous place for our community."

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Joyce said the idea was to build a unified picture. "The local authorities in the region feel that they can achieve a greater level of economic growth and I'd agree with them.

"We want to see more leveraging off some of the facilities that are already there and making sure that central and local government remove any blockages through the development of the region."

- Manawatu Standard

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