Council should invest, stay away
Councils should invest in their region's economic development, but steer clear of business development, says the Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett.
Speaking at the BNZ Partners' Speaker Series at the Marlborough Convention Centre yesterday, Mr Barnett said it was up to business owners and entrepreneurs to recognise and champion the strategies to bring the world to Marlborough.
He pointed to Kaikoura as an example of how a small town with limited funds successfully transformed itself into a desirable must-see destination. "You might say even though we are only a small region with so much money, one of our neighbours was in the same boat not so long ago."
With their contacts around New Zealand and the world, business owners were the natural people to sell Marlborough as a healthy, wealthy, good place to live, visit and experience, he said.
Investment in infrastructure was important to cater for major events, and encourage the easy flow of people and their products and services to and from the region, he said.
"Economic development is something local government needs to invest in and in Marlborough it's happening well."
But councils should steer clear of business development, he said.
"Sure they should step in where it is required, but then they need to step back and monetise those projects and let the private sector move in," he said.
Councils could use the money gained for other necessary projects, instead of continually increasing rates, he said. Before 2002 rates went up by 3.5 per cent each year, but in the last decade have increased by 7 per cent yearly.
Mr Barnett encouraged discussion to look at ways for local government to save money and increase productivity.
- The Marlborough Express