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Auckland, do big things or stay small fry: Report

“Auckland, do big things or remain small fry” – international report

June 19 2006

If the Auckland region wants to become an economic powerhouse in Asia Pacific and an international destination with real pull, it has to plan on a grand scale. That’s the message delivered today in a draft report by an international team of development experts to the leaders of the Auckland region.

Michael Barnett, chair of the Auckland Regional Economic Development Forum and chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, says the draft report confirms the need for the region to think and act big and bold.

“If we are to get economic transformation, we must do things on a grand scale, linking up big brains and big bucks to take advantage of the opportunities out there,” he says.

“Success breeds success; it’s a cliché but true. We’ve won the bid for the rugby world cup; now we must do a superb job, making it the best cup event ever. That will be the catalyst for infrastructure and social investments - leaving the region with a legacy beyond the event itself. It will also mean we will be well placed to win other large-scale events. There is the America’s Cup, there is the Cricket World Cup and there is the Commonwealth Games.

But the report makes it clear that it will only happen if we can network our resources.”

The international team was commissioned by the Metro Project, a partnership between AUT University, Committee for Auckland and the Auckland Regional Council, with funding from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, to boost economic growth. It is also supported by business, academics and the region’s city and district councils. The team’s draft report to the Regional Economic Development Forum highlighted that:

- Auckland is currently at a juncture and needs to transform its thinking and put big ideas into action if it wants to foster productivity-led growth.

- Successful city-regions around the world are those where regional and local government, business and central government work collaboratively to take advantage of opportunities, to maximise potential benefits.

- The Auckland region has many economic development initiatives but that they are too small and not integrated. The region should focus resources on a small number of large-scale projects and initiatives.

The report recommends that the Metro action plan address how the region operates functionally, and how it can promote skills, innovation, and the infrastructure needed to service a prosperous community.
The draft report says the region must:

- Tackle co-ordination and integration issues.

- Substantially raise the rate of investment in infrastructure, especially that of transport, energy and broadband.

- Optimise land use – stop urban sprawl and intensify urban development, and integrate infrastructure networks for maximum connectivity and economic efficiency.

- Focus on developing interconnectivity issues to help support all sizes of business.

- Align national and regional economic and development strategies to streamline planning and resourcing so that opportunities can be quickly capitalised upon.

The draft report makes some high level observations on a number of projects and issues, such as the waterfront development, events, government legislation and taxation policy, etc. It recommends the identification of a more innovative funding mechanism than currently used for the critical interventions required to drive Auckland forward, as well as stronger regional coordination on workforce issues.

The report also supports regional brand development and a greater role for AucklandPlus, the region’s new investment agency.

The Regional Economic Development Forum will consider the draft recommendations over the next couple of weeks, with the final report due to be released in July.


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