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Brain Drain to Brain Gain: International guest to visit Whan

Media release – 18 July 2014

Brain Drain to Brain Gain: International guest to visit Whanganui

Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, says communities such as Whanganui can choose between stagnating under job losses or embracing technology to create more jobs.

The Intelligent Community Forum is a best practice, not for profit, think tank that works with communities around the world to help them create thriving broadband economies.

The Whanganui community, as well as guests from throughout New Zealand, will have the opportunity next week to hear from Mr Bell, who is also the co-author of ‘Brain Gain’. He will talk about what is happening around the world and why Whanganui should take advantage of information and communication technology to create a broadband economy.

As part of the Community Accelerator Programme being held in Whanganui on Wednesday, July 23, Mr Bell will give a keynote address about how Whanganui and New Zealand can prosper by embracing technology to create jobs, start businesses and promote well-being for all. Whanganui is the only place Mr Bell will visit during his trip to New Zealand.

Mayor Annette Main says she is looking forward to hearing Mr Bell talk about how other communities have faced similar challenges in creating jobs and prosperity.

“Whanganui has begun the journey to becoming an Intelligent Community and we have made great progress by being recognised twice as one of the world’s ‘Smart21’ communities. This is a journey which recognises there will be differing levels and timing of engagement within our community in the digital space.

“None of us really understand what the future may look like but change is happening very fast, and this is why we as a council must be working in this space if we are to use this technology as a means of growing our economy. This is why we have invited Robert to Whanganui. It is great to be able to have such a high-profile leader speak in person to our innovators, business leaders and the community to help drive the message home.”

Wanganui District Council Digital Facilitator Marianne Archibald, who organised sponsorship for the talk, says it was not hard to get leading organisations to support the event, as the Intelligent Communities Forum is a highly regarded organisation and Whanganui has a growing reputation for being a leader in the digital field.

“We have had great support for this event, which has made it free for our community to attend. Sponsors have told us that Whanganui has an excellent reputation nationally for our consistent efforts to lead the way in the digital field. We want to thank Ultrafast Fibre, Chorus, 2020 Communications Trust, InspireNet, Alcatel Lucent, NG Connect Program and the Whanganui Farmers Market for their support.”

Whanganui was selected as a Smart21 Intelligent Community by the Intelligent Community Forum in 2013 under the ‘employment and innovation’ theme. In 2014 we were recognised again for how our art, craft, history, traditions and attitudes contribute to an intelligent community.

In 2015 the theme is the “revolutionary community” and Whanganui will enter the awards again.

“Our goal is to eventually become Intelligent Community of the Year and by doing so we will have transformed our community for the better. Come along to this event and find out how you can benefit from our digital future,” Mayor Main said.

The keynote address is open to everyone, although seats are limited. It will be held at the War Memorial Centre at 5.30pm on Wednesday, July 23. Please email marianne.archibald@wanganui.govt.nz for more information or suzanne.carrick@wanganui.govt.nz to register.


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