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Economic Development Strategy for Wairarapa

26 July 2005

“Revised Economic Development Strategy for Wairarapa Released for Comment”

For this region to provide a sustainable level of economic wellbeing for its population, it needs more people. That is the basis of the revised Economic Development Strategy for Wairarapa which has just been released by Go Wairarapa for public comment.

It has been 3 years since the last Economic Development Strategy was released to cover the period 2002-2007. At its midpoint it was appropriate to review it to ensure its relevance.

This review has resulted in a change of emphasis while retaining the core theme of the strategy.

The Land, our greatest resource, remains the basis of all economic activity and this is unlikely to change. However, while the previous strategy focussed on addressing a whole range of issues that hindered the development of the region, the new draft Strategy has just three goals:

- Population growth – 10,000 more people by 2025 (total of 48,500)

- Workforce – a population that has a strong workforce component

- Skills and Productivity – a high proportion of the workforce in high skill/high value jobs

“For an economy to be able to sustain itself, it needs a critical mass and Wairarapa’s population of 38,500 does not achieve this” says Geoff Copps, Economic Development Manager of Go Wairarapa. “It is our belief that we need at least 10,000 more people which would mean growing our population at just above the NZ average for the next 20 years. It is also our belief that we can cater for this rise in population without jeopardising our quality of life and what makes Wairarapa special.”

The second goal of having a strong workforce component of the population is a way of defining what sort of population growth is sought – a balanced population across all age groups. By working to ensure that the population growth includes working age people, there is less chance of labour shortages hindering economic wellbeing and also more chance that the growing population will support social infrastructure such as schools and sports clubs which are vital to our quality of life.

Lastly, there is no doubt that this region is characterised by lower wages than many other areas both within NZ and offshore. The key to raising this level is to be more skilled and more productive.

Geoff Copps says “It is all very well to have bold goals but without a pathway to achieving them, they are pointless. We have developed 6 key drivers of economic wellbeing that we believe will assist the region to achieve its goals. They relate to existing activities by a whole range of organisations but by having a common set of goals, we believe that more collaborative action may be possible.”

The Six Drivers of Economic Wellbeing are:

- Irrigation

- Innovative Land Use

- Visitors

- Infrastructure

- Inward Investment

- Youth & Community Enterprise

The rationale of each of these drivers is spelt out in the Draft Strategy document along with the related national and international strategies and the key stakeholders.

The final part of the strategic equation is measurement as goals and actions are no good if you don’t know whether you have reached the target or not. The Draft Strategy provides some examples of measurement systems that could be used to monitor progress.

As Doug Matheson, Chairman of Go Wairarapa states “This strategy is presented as the draft economic development chapter of wider plans for the region currently being developed, particularly the Local Authority Long term Council Community Plans. These focus on the social, economic, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to the wellbeing of our communities.”

“The ideas contained in this document are open for consultation and debate. I encourage you to read this draft plan, think about it, and constructively help to develop it further.”

The Draft Economic Development Strategy is available from the two offices of Go Wairarapa in Masterton and Martinborough (the Visitor Information Centres) and will shortly be available on the www.wairarapanz.com website.

The document contains a set of questions designed to encourage feedback.

The consultation phase lasts until 31 August after which the feedback will be factored into the various actions plans of the various stakeholders for implementation in the 2006/7 year and beyond.

“If you value what we have in Wairarapa and have an opinion on what could or should be done to maintain this, then you need to get a copy of this Draft Strategy and provide feedback. This Draft Strategy is challenging and provocative. It suggests clear goals that may not appeal to all. We need to hear that feedback so don’t delay.” Says Geoff Copps.

ENDS

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