Growth in jobs, trade hailed

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2012

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Business and employment growth in the Timaru district has been well above the national average for the last five years, with growth forecast to continue.

A survey of 66 local authorities by Business & Economic Research Ltd (Berl) ranked Timaru 22nd in 2011, up six places on 2010.

The survey looked at economic indicators, including population, gross domestic product (GDP), business numbers, employment, and export potential. Berl also looked at the past five years, with Timaru 13th for business growth and 24th for employment growth.

The figures were proof of the region's importance to the New Zealand economy, Mayor Janie Annear said.

"For the cities to thrive, our rural areas must thrive. I think that has not always generally been a well-understood principle."

While the population figures were steady, the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes on the district's population would not be known until the next census.

"I guess our population growth has always been steady and hasn't declined, as has been predicted in the past. We have steadily bucked the population predictions that we would be in decline."

Mrs Annear said the district's high placing was no surprise, as Canterbury was increasingly becoming New Zealand's "food-producing bowl".

"I think also what is happening in this community is we are getting a lot of value being added on to our produce."

Examples included a new flour mill planned by Timaru company Grainstor, Juice Products NZ's juicing factory, and the additional processing of pelts by New Zealand Light Leathers.

"I think the good thing about our growth is it has always been steady and I think that steady growth will continue. It certainly has been predicted by economists that our GDP is going to be, if not ahead of New Zealand, at least in line with New Zealand.

"We are in a good position to continue that growth."

She said water continued to be the region's key to growth.

The Berl results were similar to research commissioned by Aoraki Development, Business and Tourism, which showed the district in a good light, chief executive Wendy Smith said.

That research benchmarked Timaru against Marlborough, Ashburton, Whangarei, Whanganui, and Invercargill, with Timaru coming out on top based on results for both the last five and 10 years.

Mrs Smith said there were plenty of signs the positive results of recent years were continuing.

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- The Timaru Herald

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