Organisations need monitoring

Is it a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth?

What is the right recipe when it comes to promoting economic development in the Manawatu region?

A review commissioned by the Palmerston North city and Manawatu district councils is hoping to find out.

On Friday mayors Jono Naylor and Margaret Kouvelis announced the review of activities they support through Vision Manawatu, Destination Manawatu, Sport Manawatu, Spearhead, Feilding Promotion and the Bio Commerce Centre.

Together, the six economic development groups receive $2.2 million from the two councils.

So it is only prudent to check that ratepayers are getting a good return on that investment.

One of the matters to be looked at will surely be whether there are unnecessary crossovers between the organisations' areas of responsibility.

Another will be whether the groups are sticking to what they're tasked to do or straying into other areas.

From the outside it's difficult to gauge how effective the groups are at what the councils pay them to do - partly because they do not always do a good job of promoting their work, something Sport Manawatu executives admitted to a city council meeting this month.

Partly it's because the status quo, with six organisations, leads to confusion in the public's eyes over who is responsible for what.

That's not to say that fewer organisations would be better but the question of mergers needs to be looked at. At least there are likely to be areas where savings can be made through the sharing of services or expertise.

One group that might feel the pinch is Feilding Promotion, the only group out of the six not responsible for working across the whole region.

There's an argument that more of this economic development work can be done by councils themselves.

Horowhenua District Council, for a nearby example, brought its economic development work in-house after breaking away from a partnership with Kapiti Coast District Council.

Since then a new brand for the district has been launched, along with an economic development strategy.

It will be interesting to see the recommendations of the review, which is being carried out by consulting firm Morrison Low. It will also be important for the councils to take heed of them.

Manawatu Standard