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Regions challenged to supercharge development

25 September 2003 Speech notes

Regions challenged to supercharge development

Regions are being challenged to step up their commitment to major regional initiatives.

Opening the regional development conference in Timaru today, economic development minister and Acting Prime Minister Jim Anderton challenged regions to step up the Major Regional Initiatives programme.

Regions can receive up to $2 million in matching funds for major regional initiatives, which meet criteria including consensus support in the region.

So far eight regions have announced major regional initiatives, including a wood processing centre of excellence in Rotorua, a wine centre of excellence in Marlborough and an Innovation Park in Hamilton.

“Those regions that have not completed one MRI when others begin their second need to push on harder,” Jim Anderton said.

“We need to see a series of major strategic projects around our 26 regions – then 52, followed by 78 major strategic projects. We need to inspire New Zealand with a series of innovative ideas from one end of New Zealand to the other.

“We need imagination and creativity in developing the second and third generation of regional initiatives. What are examples of imagination? Southland came up with a zero tertiary fees initiative. Where are the proposals that match Southland’s zero fees innovation? A region with high numbers on benefits might propose a pilot of halved benefit abatement rates to help beneficiaries back into the workforce.

“It’s up to regions to spell out a vision for where they are going. There needs to be strong region-wide debate. It’s rare to see new ideas for regional initiatives debated on the front pages of regional media. More debates will lead to better ideas, more buy-in and ultimately more confidence.

“I would like to see the urgency of development lifted. Just as we encourage innovation in business, we need to encourage innovative thinking at the regional development level,” Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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