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ARC Role in Regional Economic Development Endorced

University Leader Endorses ARC Role in Regional Economic Development

Auckland University of Technology Pro Vice Chancellor Ian Shirley has strongly endorsed the commitment of ARC Chairman Michael Lee to accept responsibility for leading the Auckland Regional Economic Development Strategy (AREDS).

“It is extremely refreshing to see the ARC accept a leadership role in the development of the regional economy - not only is it an important commitment in terms of the region,” says Professor Shirley “but also in the context of national development”.

Professor Shirley has been a long standing critic of the way in which central and regional government abandoned local and regional development during the 1980s and 1990s.

He sees “the changes in local government legislation and the leadership role now being exercised by bodies such as the ARC as marking a significant departure from the myopic view of economic development which dominated the past two decades”.

Professor Shirley acknowledges that the AREDS process has been the subject of both concern and debate. “There have been criticisms of AREDS and in my view some of these criticisms are justified. However, the way in which business and key industry sectors worked together with Economic Development Agencies, local government and community during the formative stages of the AREDS process established a significant platform for local and regional economic development. With the support of the ARC Chairman, we now have an opportunity to capitalize on that foundation,” says Professor Shirley.

He says Auckland makes a significant contribution to the national economy and is the centre of the country’s business and financial services with a host of innovative development initiatives occurring within different workplaces, industry sectors and localities of the region. While often viewed as an economic liability in terms of infrastructure and utilities, it has the potential and capacity to make a major contribution to national as well as regional development. The ARC’s leadership of the AREDS programme will ensure that work, industry, housing and population projections are integrated in a sustainable way, making the Auckland region a great place to live and do business.

“In order to demonstrate this University’s commitment to support the ARC led regional development strategy, AUT has established an Economic Development Office to coordinate its economic development programme and activities,” he says.

“The Economic Development Office will have two significant functions. First, it will bring together the economic development programmes administered by AUT’s Institute of Public Policy – these programmes include the Graduate Diploma, which is New Zealand’s pre eminent qualification for economic development practitioners seeking professional accreditation, and the Masters and PhD programmes which draw candidates from around New Zealand and increasingly from the Asian and Pacific Region,” according to Professor Shirley.

“And secondly, the EDO will bring together the various activities and commitments AUT has made in working within Economic Development Agencies throughout New Zealand, with business and industry and with local and regional government.”

The Institute of Public Policy (AUT) participated in the formative stages of AREDS and more recently it has played an important role in the establishment of an Auckland Regional Economic Development Association (AREDA) – the Association represents the network of EDA’s in the region such as Enterprise Waitakere, Enterprising Manukau and Enterprise North Shore and it includes regional and national agencies such as the Pacific Business Trust. AREDA (and its parent body, the Economic Development Association of New Zealand) is currently working with the Institute of Public Policy in developing evaluation systems for Economic Development Agencies and Local Government.

“The Economic Development Office will bring these various activities together as well as playing a significant role in leading two international research programmes from this part of the world - one focussed on local and regional economic development and the other on the creative industries in comparative cities including London, Toronto and Auckland,” says Professor Shirley.

The Economic Development Office will be the major organisational link between AUT and the Auckland Regional Council when it takes up its leadership role in July 2005.

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