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Keep Wellington Cooking!

Size does matter!

Wellington should be New Zealand's capital for cultural events, fashion, education and financial services, as well as the gateway to central New Zealand.

That's the vision for Wellington's economic development of mayoral candidate Councillor Stephanie Cook.

She released her Economic Development for Wellington at a business breakfast hosted by Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton today.

"The Coalition Government is creating unprecedented opportunities for regional development in partnership with local authorities and the private sector. Regional development means more jobs, rising incomes and a secure future for the people of Wellington," Councillor Cook said.

"If Wellington is to seize its economic development opportunities, it will be up to the next council - and the mayor in particular - to take a leadership role. Wellington has to do better at encouraging discussion across the city focussed on developing a shared vision for the city.

"So far, Wellington's mayoral candidates have been silent on their vision for Wellington's economic development. But this election is about much more than rates and rubbish collection."

Stephanie Cook said she could work more closely than any other mayoral candidate with Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton.

"I think the access I can get to Mr Anderton will give Wellington a unique opportunity to maximise its development."

Copies of the Economic Development policy are available.

Economic Development in Wellington

Unleashing Wellington's potential¡K

The Coalition Government is creating unprecedented opportunities for regional development in partnership with local authorities and the private sector.

Regional development means more jobs, rising incomes and a secure future for the people of Wellington.

It's up to the next mayor of Wellington to seize the opportunity, or it will be lost. The challenge for the new mayor will be to work closely with central government and lead the debate in Wellington.

Candidates for mayor have an obligation to spell out their vision for Wellington's economic development. What are their priorities for economic development? How will a vision for Wellington be achieved? What working relationship will the new mayor have with central government? How do candidates intend to involve the whole community in the debate?

Without leadership, nothing will happen. The mayor carries responsibility for providing leadership.

When it comes to developing a regional development vision for Wellington, most Wellington residents have been ignored. In many regions of New Zealand, the community is actively engaged in debating the way ahead. Councils are playing a leadership role.

Wellington is a vibrant, exciting city, full of people with great ideas. It's time to unleash Wellington's potential.

How regional partnerships work¡K

Industry New Zealand has allocated $70,000 to the Wellington region under its Regional Partnership Programme. The lead agency in the region is the Wellington City Council.

The Regional Partnerships Programme assists individual regions to develop plans to make the regional economy work. Individual regions develop plans for themselves.

The programme is designed to assist individuals, businesses and communities to work together to identify and develop the opportunities in their area.

It offers financial support to help develop strategies and build partnerships. Grants of up to $2 million each will become available for major regional initiatives that are consistent with regional strategies and contribute to the government's goal of sustainable development.

Compared to funding for other regions announced in the same round, Wellington received less support for its partnership programme. Its funding compared to $200,000 for Canterbury; $100,000 each for Southland, the Eastern Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay; $133,000 for Rotorua and Manawatu and $82,500 for Wairarapa.

Wellington's comparatively smaller grant of $70,000 reflects two things. First, Wellington was an early pioneer of economic development. It has a strong agency in Totally Wellington, and needs less support to develop an initial plan. But the low level of funding also reflects the way Wellington has begun to fall behind compared to other regions.

Other regions are much more committed to widespread local consultation towards the development of regional plans. It will take leadership to catch up.

Getting the whole city involved in regional development¡K

Wellington has to do better at encouraging discussion across the city focussed on developing a shared vision for the city.

The challenge to Wellington City is to work in partnership with the private sector, local authorities, Maori economic entities and community groups to meet economic, environmental and social needs.

In Northland, for example, a Mayoral Forum and Community Trust put up $100,000 towards a region-wide consultation exercise.

A Maori Task Group was formed. Brochures and advertisements were produced and an essay competition was run to get school children interested. At Northland Field-days - one of the largest outdoor events in the country - the most popular stand was dedicated to asking for ideas on Northland's development. People were queuing up to have their say!

Wellington has more people, and a smaller, more integrated region. It should be comparatively simple to put together an equally strong process, involving a partnership of local government, business, iwi and community groups.

City council could provide opportunities for the community to discuss the region's development, such as stalls at community events. The Council can sponsor an information campaign, essay competitions and community out-reach programmes.

A basis for development¡K

To kick-start discussion, I am publishing my suggestions for the principles and industries that Wellington should focus on to develop the local economy.

The challenge is to set out a vision for development. The principles behind development are more important in the early stages than identifying the specific industries for development.

The principles behind Wellington economic development should be:

- Development should build on the unique strengths of Wellington. There is too much to do to start from scratch. We have many advantages compared to other regions. We should focus on building on those strengths, rather than simply trying to compete with other regions by doing the same as they do.

- Development should be sustainable. It should be based on renewable resources.

- Development should be job-rich. Jobs deliver prosperity for individuals, their families and their communities. Employment is essential for social cohesion.

- Development should be aimed at growing high skill, high-value industries. High skill industries help to retain and attract people to Wellington.

Building on these principles, it is possible to identify some of the most exciting economic development opportunities available to Wellington.

In summary, my vision is that

Wellington should be New Zealand's capital for cultural events, fashion, education and financial services, as well as the gateway to central New Zealand.

- Wellington should be the New Zealand leader in cultural events¡K

Wellington has the Festival of the Arts, Te Papa, thriving local theatre. It is home to many national cultural outlets such as the NZSO.

Wellington should aim to have, within three years, a major national festival at least monthly. What about festivals of theatre, dance, music? Wellington should be the national leader in film festivals, for example. Can we work with movie distribution companies to premier shows in Wellington? Actively seek national and international productions to perform here.

Wellington has considerable venue capacity, through its theatres, centres and the new stadium.

- Wellington should be the gateway to central New Zealand¡K

Exciting things are happening in regions close to Wellington. Martinborough has New Zealand's leading food and wine festival. Hawkes Bay is increasingly developing its own opportunities. Nelson has major events such as Wearable Arts. Winter snow-based activities on Mt Ruapehu are recovering and the central region is developing new summer-based activities around the mountains and lakes.

As well as positioning itself as a destination in its own right, Wellington needs to link with activities in other regions to become a gateway. The idea is to attract visitors from Auckland or Sydney, for say, wearable arts, who also spend several days in Wellington on the way through attending a complementary festival.

In addition to attracting major events, supporting infrastructure will begin to develop around the target industries (e.g. the music industry could develop around music festivals), provided there is some on-going support for the development of those industries.

The process is four stage: Attract major events to Wellington; Build links with neighbouring regions to co-ordinate complementary events; Promote destinations together; Build an infrastructure.

- Wellington should be New Zealand's capital for fashion and financial services¡K

Wellington already has significant bases in each industry.

In financial services, Wellington has long been losing services to Auckland and to Australia. But we have some natural advantages, such as access to highly skilled workforce, abundant office space and telecommunications capacity in a compact CBD and proximity to the nation's political and economic decision-makers.

Promoting Wellington as New Zealand's leading centre for financial services will bring high-skill, high-paying jobs. It is an environmentally positive 'weightless' activity.

It will take an active campaign to attract. Direct approaches by professional economic development staff to potential companies. Wellington has to be prepared to remove the obstacles. The city has to be prepared to work with the private sector - for example, to ensure our telecommunications capacity is more advanced than any rival city.

In fashion, Wellington is fortunate to be home to some of New Zealand's best designers. An upcoming fashion week underlines the potential strength of the industry.

Building the industry helps to position Wellington as a centre where exciting things happen, as well as providing employment opportunities and opportunities to make Wellington a destination for fashion shoppers.

It will take partnership with the industry to attract and retain designers, fabric suppliers and manufacturers. We should do what we can to help producers build links with retailers around New Zealand and overseas. Wellington should be prepared to facilitate a regular programme of fashion events, such as fashion week and exhibitions.

- Wellington should be New Zealand's education capital¡K

In Victoria and Massey, Wellington has two high quality universities with excellent reputations.

This council has supported the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary not only for its ecological values, but also because it will offer visitors to Wellington another opportunity.

And we have just signed off support for the Marine Education Centre which will be another great visitor attraction. It will also offer an opportunity for the growth of a new marine research business cluster.

We have a real opportunity in the research and development area.

The council already supports an earthquake technology cluster and we have the opportunity to build more.

In Wellington we have NIWA, the School of Medicine, Carter Observatory, and DOC and in the Hutt there is IGNIS.

These CRI’s and other institutions offer us some great opportunities.

Wellington needs to work with industry as well as educational institutions to ensure that courses are offered that can attract students from around New Zealand as well as from our international region.

In Southland, the local community is providing free education through Southland Polytech to attract students to the region and help to retain Southland's young people. The scheme has been a resounding success. Although it isn't possible to emulate a scheme like that in Wellington, the success of the Southland scheme shows the power and potential of a proactive economic development strategy and a partnership between the local authority, central government, the private sector and educational and research institutions.

- Let's get debate going¡K

These are my ideas to kick start a city-wide debate about our economic development priorities.

There will be many other good ideas for industries that are ready to grow quickly.

But it is vital that we start talking about it.

Wellington needs a mayor who will display economic development leadership. Wellington needs a mayor who will recognise that there is an opportunity presented by the Government's regional development partnerships and who is prepared to seize the chance, to promote discussion about our regional priorities and provide opportunities to involve the whole community.

S. Cook

30 August 2001


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