Aoraki put $47.4m into region - Berl

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012

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Community leaders have come out fighting to retain Aoraki Polytechnic, as a new report shows it brought $47.4 million to the region last year.

The report was prepared by Dr Ganesh Nana, the chief economist of economic agency Business and Economic Research (Berl), for Aoraki Development Business and Tourism (ADBT) and the Timaru District Council.

The two organisations commissioned the report this month after it was announced financial challenges had led the polytech to appoint independent adviser Malcolm Inglis to look at its options. He is to present a report to the polytech council in December.

Aoraki suffered a financial loss of $1.6m last year and faces a projected loss of $2.1m this year, as well as forecasting 328 fewer equivalent fulltime students (Efts) this year than budgeted for.

Berl figures showed Aoraki contributed $47.4m to the South Canterbury economy in 2011, according to the independent report into the economic impact of the tertiary institution.

Aoraki employed a total of 192 fulltime equivalent staff and the equivalent of a further 28 contractors. In comparison, the South Canterbury District Health Board employs 950 staff, while Fonterra's Clandeboye plant has 825 staff.

Aoraki attracted 2147 fulltime equivalent students and 28 international students and spent $13.5m locally to operate, while the total gross expenditure by students and the polytechnic totalled $51.8m over the year.

"The report offers us some hard data about the financial reality of the significance of Aoraki Polytechnic to this community," ADBT chief executive Wendy Smith said. "It is particularly important to get this information at this time as the polytechnic is encountering financial difficulty and as a result, it is exploring options."

Mayor Janie Annear said Aoraki was one of the larger employers in the region.

"The polytechnic has huge value as from an educational perspective it provides hands-on practical skills-based training for our young people and for the more mature students either upskilling while in work or transitioning back to work," she said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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