Business Diversity Key To Successful Regional Dev.
Business diversity key to successful regional development
From worm farming in Mangere to the development of Twizel as an international film location, the range of new community initiatives in New Zealand shows diversity and playing to your strengths are key ingredients in the recipe for successful and vibrant regions.
That’s the view of Peter Kenyon, the Australian community development specialist who was integral in the establishment of the Community Employment Group in New Zealand a decade ago.
Peter Kenyon is back in New Zealand this week, speaking at the Regional Development Conference in Rotorua which is being promoted and organised by the Ministry for Economic Development.
“There are some amazing initiatives that have happened at a local level in New Zealand. Just look at the Kaikoura whale watch business and the way people have just grabbed hold of an idea and built upon it.”
However, it is just as important not to rely solely on one industry. “You can’t put all your eggs into one basket – diversification plays a major role. We’ve paid the price in Australia where we’ve continued to equate rural land only with agriculture. The reality is that in some of our prime agricultural regions tourism is worth twice as much to the local economy.”
Peter Kenyon says each community and region has to identify its assets and strengths. “What we are discovering is communities that are moving forward despite the economic trends around them are those with positive local attitudes and local leadership rather than advantages of location or the degree of productivity in the local soil.”
There is a series of ingredients that makes things happen and one of them is getting communities to focus on what they have got, not what they haven’t. It is about seeing the glass as half full, rather than half empty.
“Too many planning tools are about getting people to identify their deficiencies, their weaknesses and threats. I’m one of those people who believe you can’t build a regional community on deficiencies, you build a community on its strengths, its assets. That’s why there is a very strong movement internationally towards asset mapping – giving people tools to map their resources and mobilise their communities.”
While in Rotorua Peter Kenyon will share with delegates at the conference examples of “healthy, resilient, enterprising communities” from around the world and the importance of networking and collaboration in achieving that success. The conference will also provide a valuable opportunity to share ideas and initiatives from around New Zealand.
“International experience is showing that there are specific ingredients that build vibrancy, resilience and sustainability into local economies. We’ re talking about the attitudes and behaviours of the community - things like local ownership, diversification and strong leadership,” Peter Kenyon says.