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Hutt At The Crossroads

Hutt City will need to 'find' 550 jobs over the next five years just to keep the same number of jobs that exist in the city today, Councillors were told at a public workshop last night.

Hutt City Mayor John Terris called the draft Economic Development Strategy (EDS) a 'wake up call,' with the presentation of figures showing the City has been suffering a net job loss of 111 jobs per annum for the last 5 years. Mayor Terris also said it was an opportunity to have a serious city-wide debate about what people want the city to look like in five and ten years time.

"The development of this material is very timely in the wake of the Prime Minister's announcement on the economy and job growth earlier this week. I would like this draft Economic Development Strategy, which includes the latest projections for population and job growth, to form the start of a dialogue about just how much Council can do, and how much we are prepared to invest, as a wider community, in our city's future, because there are a number of opinions around the council table about just what sort of role Council can play," said Mayor Terris.

"While there are some things which it is obvious the Council can do, such as looking to ensure adequate access to broadband technology, many other things that will contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of the city will require us to develop partnerships with the community at-large and the business community in particular, as well as central government."

"What is clear, however, is that what we have been doing until now is not going to be enough to achieve economic growth."

Figures contained in the draft EDS show a growth scenario of just 0.5 per cent would see 925 new jobs created over the next five years.

Mayor Terris said that while that might sound like a modest target it would mean attracting several new large businesses - by no means a simple task - or many smaller businesses.

Statistics reveal that the average New Zealand business employs just over 4 employees (4.06 employees).

"A paradigm shift in our current thinking is going to be required to meet the challenges facing Hutt City. The first step in that process is deciding that we can, in fact, do things to make a difference and then we need to agree on how much we are prepared to pay to make that difference," Mayor Terris said.

While job growth is a primary aim of the draft EDS, there are also strategies that encourage the development of a skilled workforce and continued investment in current and new business activities.

"Just as important is getting better at telling our own success stories because there are a huge number of people in Hutt City doing great things and building up great businesses. These people deserve recognition for the excellent contribution they are making here and now. We need to treasure them and retain them.."

The draft EDS will go through an extensive consultation process with the community and businesses and then be referred to Council's Strategy and Policy Committee and then on to the full Council.

"This Economic Development Strategy is no quick fix solution for the issues our city faces. It is, in essence, an overarching strategy to foster and facilitate growth. All the activities Council undertakes should be held up against their contribution to making this city a great place to live, work and bring up families. We would urge people to take part actively in the coming consultation on the city's future," said Mayor Terris.


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