OPINION: Economically, Southland has performed ahead of many other regions around New Zealand in recent years.
From 2007 to 2013, Southland's economy increased 40.9 per cent, well ahead of the national movement of 24.5 per cent.
By comparison, our neighbours in Otago experienced an increase in their economy of just 25.6 per cent over the same period.
This new regional data has been calculated by Statistics New Zealand and is the clearest indicator yet that our regional economies have led New Zealand's recovery in recent years.
It's exciting and positive to see that Southland is one of the provinces at the top of the list and confirms what a lot of Southlanders have been saying for a long time.
For the Government it is important for us to have clear indicators for the regions of the results of their efforts to attract investment and encourage growth.
From 2007 to 2013, Southland experienced growth above the national average, while regions such as Auckland, the West Coast, and Waikato were just under the average.
The impact of farming on this province's economy is reflected in the figures.
Agriculture accounted for 23 per cent of the region's GDP in 2011, with other industries making smaller contributions.
In fact, from 2007 to 2011, agriculture increased by a massive 113.2 per cent, with the largest increases coming from dairy farming.
By 2012, Southland's GDP rose mainly because of sheep and beef farming, along with the contribution of manufacturing industries.
However, in 2013, GDP in this province fell slightly, reflecting a decline in agriculture, specifically dairy.
The data, up to March 31 last year, covers the period of the global financial crisis, the Canterbury earthquakes, and last summer's drought, which affected farmers in Southland.
Overall, the South Island has experienced stronger growth than the North Island in the past five years.
The South Island has grown at 21 per cent while the North Island has grown at 13 per cent.
This is another signal, alongside lower unemployment rates, that there is potential for significant job growth in the South Island.
It also confirms the fantastic opportunities that exist in the Southland both now and into the future.
* Bill English is MP for Clutha- Southland.
- The Southland Times