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Creating opportunities for small business - Bunkle

Hon Philida Bunkle
26 August 2000 Speech Notes

Address to the Textile Institute 28th Annual Conference, 2000
Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology

Creating opportunities for small business

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to visit a region of which I am very fond.

While there are many places around New Zealand that I love to visit, Nelson is one of my favourite homes away from home. Aside from the appealing climate, the community here has proven its willingness to lead the way both in domestic and international fronts. Nelson is one of few places where milk still comes in recyclable glass bottles.
Nelson and the wearable arts show:
Nelson's internationally acclaimed wearable arts show is a classic example of how we demonstrate to the world that New Zealand is indeed a vibrant and sophisticated nation. The show proves that we have innovative designers and just as importantly textile specialists.

Another example of this region's willingness to embrace innovative ideas is the persistence with which local businesses have lobbied government for years to recognise industrial hemp as a potential industry. I’ll touch on industrial hemp a little later.

Why government needs to help transform the NZ economy:
I’m here to tell you about this government’s goal of transforming the New Zealand economy. By economic transformation I mean building on our primary production strengths and moving into a more value-added and knowledge based production. It also means increasing the technological capability of business and improving the conditions for innovation. It means greater emphasis on exports.

I know it all sounds a bit much, but if we look at our economic history, there is a need for change. From the 1950s to the 1990s we slipped in GDP per capita from 9th in the OECD to 19th. In terms of economic performance, New Zealand is lagging behind the developed countries we want to compare ourselves with, yet at the same time we want a comparable standard of living and public services.

New Zealand’s per capita income was 95% of the OECD average in 1984 and in 1995 it was 87% and it’s still slipping. Our average incomes are falling compared to other countries. Seven dollars in every $100 we earn, goes straight overseas in the form of interest, profits or dividends. For the past 10 years government stood by and left the economic strategy thinking to the regions and businesses. The only element missing from that effort was government.

This Labour Alliance government has stepped up to fill that missing link. We want your ideas for new business. We want your ideas for expanding your business. We want your thoughts on how we can make business sustainable in economical and environmental terms. In return, this government will support you and help you create an environment that makes it possible for your business to grow.

What MED and Industry NZ has to offer:
The economic transformation I referred to earlier works like this: We give you our ideas to help you realise yours. You may have heard of the new Economic Development Ministry – and Industry New Zealand. It’s our idea of helping small and medium sized businesses to grow.

Industry New Zealand has programmes and strategies that will directly and indirectly support the development of the textile industry in New Zealand. There are three main threads to Industry INZ.
 Direct support for small and medium sized businesses
 Preparation and facilitation of industry strategies
 Direct support for regions to enhance their economic strategies

These three threads will be supported by an events strategy and an IT strategy.

The textile industry like most New Zealand industries is made up of many small businesses. Companies like yours can seek direct support from the programmes that Industry NZ has to offer.

To give you a quick glance over these "hand-up" business schemes this government has developed three schemes:
1 The Enterprise Awards Scheme grants up to $10,000 to businesses and entrepreneurs with new ideas to expand their businesses.
2 The Investment Ready Scheme provides business appraisal and deal broking support to small businesses that need help attracting investment capital
3 BIZinfo and BIZ training allows you to get the information and training in skills you need to generate growth in your business.

Industry NZ has an industry strategy that has three prongs – sectoral change projects, strategic projects and support for high growth potential companies. Currently Industry NZ has selected two sectoral change projects the first being forestry and national wood processing strategy and the other, a creative industries strategy. Both industries have significant potential for growth. We will look at others as the organisation grows and develops.

This government has recently announced a taskforce to develop a tourism industry strategy – hard to believe that it hadn’t been thought of before isn’t it?

Both the creative and tourism industry strategies have significant potential for your industry. Fashion is likely to be one of the major components of the creative industry plan. You know as well as anyone else that there is an unrealised potential in New Zealand’s fashion talent. Fashion combines artistic imagination and high quality workmanship. To realise that potential it needs to be underpinned by the textile industry. In other words, we need you to be involved in developing a strategy for creative industries. To help this occur I recently opened a fashionIncubator in Auckland’s fashion centre of High Street. This is a scheme that gives resource and mentoring assistance to young designers.

Likewise the tourism industry plan needs your input. I’m reminded of the Nelson Cultural Tourism Guide that features a broad spectrum of cultural activities including profiles on local pottery and textile craftspeople. People and companies featured in that excellent guide have had significant increases in sales and they have contributed to marketing this region in the best possible light.

Why stop there? The way is clear for Industry NZ and the textile industry to develop a strategy for growing textile opportunities. This must be locally based if it’s to be sustainable in the long run.

This government is determined to help your business. Remember the industrial hemp lobby groups I spoke of? This government has given its approval for work to start on developing trial crops. We recognise the potential for industrial hemp and we aren’t about to allow prejudiced and ill informed panic merchants to stop us from testing that potential. There is still a lot of work to be done but we’ve sown the seeds if you’ll excuse the pun.

Events Strategy:
Moving on to the whole-of-government approach we have to developing industries like yours, I’ll briefly describe our events strategy. Events can play a major role particularly with your industry, where there is major local appeal and the potential to attract international interest. The wearable arts show is the example I used earlier.

Fashion and craft shows are great examples of an industry including an events component. Industry NZ is still working on its events strategy and has started discussions with Trade New Zealand, Tourism NZ, and the Office of Tourism and Sport. It seems pretty obvious that these groups should be working together on a long-term strategy and again, it’s amazing to think that it hasn’t been done like this before.

Government funding:
Our industries and economic development polices are only just swinging into gear now. This year we committed $33 million in new spending for these policies. Next year that increases to more than $73 million and by the year 2002/2003 it will be funded at a level of $112 million.

This government wants new partnerships with industries and business. That means you. We’re doing our part by putting money into programmes that will help you put your ideas to work, to help your business grow. The rest is up to you.

I’m sure the ideas and the innovation will be sprouting here this weekend. I look forward to hearing about them.


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