Mayors At The Heart Of Regional Economies
Mayors at the heart of regional economies
It's not roading, sewage or rates absorbing most of your local Mayor's time - for the majority economic development is the number one issue on their agenda.
That's according to former Hamilton Mayor Margaret Evans, who surveyed all New Zealand mayors during the period 1998-2001 as part of her Masters thesis on local body leadership.
"What I found was that economic development was the single most significant issue that all of them noted took up their time," she says.
Margaret Evans is speaking at this week's Regional Development Conference in Napier, which is focused on moving regional development in New Zealand up a level to meet the demands of a changing international environment.
She says New Zealand must look outwards to move forward. This means talking to other cities and regions and learning from them.
"You've got to go and see what other people are doing and get other ideas. That's why events and festivals have taken off in New Zealand, and they're having a huge economic and social impact. That's why environmental issues are coming to the fore - because we've seen it happening somewhere else."
Sister city relationships have vast potential in terms of regional economic development, but efforts to build these partnerships are hamstrung when mayors fear being seen as globetrotters.
"We're an export nation, we've got a really big spend from tourists. It is actually important that we work to build those international connections."
She says local government mayors have a hugely influential role in developing regional economies.
"Mayors are great repositories of information. They're the last port of call for many people as well as the first port of call. They know what's going on, they know who's who . well they do if they're doing their job properly.
"I firmly believe that mayors are probably the most important leaders in the country," she says.
This year's Regional Development Conference is the third to be held and runs from March 21-23. It is jointly hosted by the Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Jim Anderton, the Ministry of Economic Development, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, EDANZ and the Hawke's Bay region.
Programme details are available at http://www.regdev.govt.nz/