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Small Towns Must Take Responsibility For Economies

Small Towns Must Take Responsibility For Their Economic Development

The Bendon plant closures provide a strong reminder to small towns dependent on a single employer to be more active to attract new businesses to locate and offer a wider employment pool to the local community.

Praising the business leaders of Te Aroha for taking a positive view about the town's future following the decision of Bendon to withdaw after a long association, Michael Barnett, Chamber CEO said that the "hard reality" is that over the past few years New Zealand had created far more new jobs than it had lost.

"We have known for a number of years that textiles and car manufacturing are high risk industries for small towns and the local highly skilled workforce. However on the positive side we have a range of new enterprises constantly springing up that also demand a high skilled work force - tourism, call centres, food processing, software development....and many other examples."

The fact is that the world economy is in transformation, and this process is occurring in all countries, regardless of the extent of direct government assistance to businesses to remain or locate to a region.

It is a proven fact that a major weakness of many small-medium businesses (SMEs) is that they tend to operate day-to-day without a long term plan to broaden their customer base or adjust to the changing market. It is a weakness that small towns also need to guard against, said Mr Barnett.

"While it is perhaps understandable that a small town that is dependent on a single employer drops its guard about taking care of the long-term future, the Bendon message to every small town in New Zealand is to take a good look at the local business-employment situation and be proactive to determine a future beyond dependence on a single supplier."

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