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Anderton: Creating West Coast Entrepreneurs

Hon Jim Anderton Minister for Economic Development

Creating West Coast Entrepreneurs – Education to Business Conference

Tuesday 3 August 2004. Ashley Hotel, Tasman Street, Greymouth



Previous speakers: Richard White of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and Michael O'Meara of 'Bank of Ideas' Australia; entrepreneurs, young and old…

I’ve got a couple of new stories about the West Coast.

There was an Auckland author who decided to write a book about churches around the South Island.

So he flies down to Dunedin and visits the cathedral.

On one wall he finds a golden telephone with a sign saying, ‘$10,000 per call’.

The Aucklander is intrigued, and asks a priest what the telephone was used for?

The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and for $10,000 you could talk to God.

The Auckland writer thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Christchurch.

There, at the cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it.

He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Dunedin and so he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was.

She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and for $10,000 he could talk to God.

‘O.K., thank you,’ the writer said.

And on he went, through Invercargill, Nelson, Oamaru, Ashburton and Queenstown.

Everywhere, the golden phone and the same sign, “$10,000 a call’.

Finally he comes over to Greymouth.

There he finds the same golden phone, but this time the sign reads’ twenty cents a call.’

The guy from Auckland is taken aback and he says to the local priest, ‘I’ve been all over the South Island and I’ve seen the direct line to heaven in churches everywhere. But everywhere else, it’s been $10,000 a call. Why is it so cheap here?’

The priest smiles and says, “You’re on the Coast now, boy. It’s a local call.”

The Coast is a piece of heaven and the aim of this conference is to find ways to unleash the potential of the Coast economy.

This conference will help to increase relationships between young entrepreneurs, educators and business.

It is to help inspire a generation of young entrepreneurs.

It will help to provide information to increase the chances of success.

I want to take a little time to talk about why it’s important to inspire entrepreneurship in young New Zealanders.

Creative businesses create the wealth we need.

Everything we do in our community rests on the wealth we create.

Our health care, our education, our security, our leisure activities are all made possible by our industry.

The better we are at creating wealth, the more we have to enjoy.

I want every young person growing up in New Zealand to have a future here, with a job, an income and a lifestyle as promising and secure as any young person in the world.

And as New Zealand is to the world, so the Coast is to New Zealand.

So I want every young person growing up on the Coast to have a vibrant future here…a future promising enough to retain everyone who wants to remain and enjoy the unique lifestyle the Coast offers.

Young people will only stay if there are jobs and social services – services like banks, and schools and health care for young families, housing and so on.

We need high-value businesses to succeed if we are going to build a platform for the economy.

There are no third world countries with first world health and education.

A strong economy doesn’t guarantee strong social services, but it gives you the option.

When the Coast economy was in a decline a few years ago, services were moving away.

When services close, the businesses needed to serve them shut their doors and follow.

Regional development is about turning that cycle around, so new businesses open, new jobs and created and more people attracted by the opportunities on offer.

Businesses with a future on the Coast are built on the strengths of the region.

The most important strength of the Coast is the smart, creative and talented people here.

We are an innovative country; It’s part of our culture.

Because we are small and a long way from the rest of the world, we are used to having to be resourceful, and having the freedom to try things out.

We need to harness the innovation we have.

One of the best things about my job is the opportunity to see success and creativity at close hand.

There are some amazingly talented and creative people in New Zealand businesses, including right here on the Coast.

Example: E-Quip Services.

E-Quip developed a market for its heavy machinery components and attachments throughout New Zealand.

It makes excavator components as well as flatdeck and tipping decks for truck, products for the mining industry and more.

The company has invested heavily in modern plant --- computer-assisted large capacity lathes, an 80 tonne press and radial arm drill.

Recently, with help from the West Coast Development Trust, it purchased a steel plate cutting “Guillotine” and computer controlled “Pressbrake” capable of folding plate steel up to 3.6m long.

E-Quip is growing, with more staff being taken on, and new buildings to accommodate it all.

Over half the company’s income is from manufactured items “exported” off the West Coast.

Although the company is a long way from larger cities and markets, it’s able to succeed because of its specialist knowledge.

And here’s an unexpected advantage.

The company can supply goods at short notice through an overnight courier system – it often sends items by courier as late as 6PM, when city firms confronted by congestion struggle to deliver after 3 o’clock.

So isolation works for the firm.

The lesson is: There is unexpected manufacturing success here on the Coast.

Creative businesses are able to spot the advantages of the Coast, and enjoy the lifestyle here while still making a great living.

Agencies such as the West Coast Development Trust, E2B, Venture West Coast and local councils are working in partnership with them.

So too is the government’s economic development agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

A few years ago it was fashionable to believe that if the government got out of the way and wished everyone luck, business success would happen by itself.

Unfortunately, the evidence came in and it showed we were falling behind other developed countries.

So when I became Minister of Economic Development the government began to play its role in business success.

One of the first things we found was that we could do better at creating an enterprise culture.

New Zealanders support and celebrate our sporting heroes but not our business heroes.

I believe cynicism arises from self-serving corporate behaviour, for example, people who were seen to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

But that is not the model of most creative businesses.

Creative businesses are those that unleash the power of ideas, that help individuals to flourish.

That’s what this conference is about.

Harnessing good ideas.

Ensuring that individuals flourish by learning about the best way to unleash the power of those ideas.

And creating jobs and a vibrant future for the Coast in the process.

We need more internationally-minded businesses, able to capture opportunities in the global marketplace.

We need more companies who create and sell added-value goods that the world doesn’t even know it needs yet.

We need entrepreneurs to drive these businesses.

I recently read about a giant high-technology multinational which has looked at the future of its business.

It concluded the biggest businesses in its sector in ten years time probably haven’t even been started yet.

So the opportunities are there.

It takes visionaries to create them.

The government is going to work in partnership with industry to play our role.

Partnership with tertiary institutions, and with community development organisations.

We need to develop attitudes and create an environment that celebrates and supports entrepreneurship.

People who dare to dream and then take steps to fulfill a great ambition.

Entrepreneurship is about encouraging creativity and new ways of looking at things.

I congratulate the students and mentors of E2B presenting today.

They are an inspiration for the West Coast and for budding entrepreneurs around the country.

If there was one empowering message I could give every young person, it is that everyone can fulfil their own potential.

Only you can do what you do.

Only you can make the contribution you make.

Your contribution is unique.

Others can copy it, but they cannot replace it.

It’s not about what school you went to, or what advantages you start out with.

It is about what you want to be.

It is about making the most of your individual talents and being all that you can be.

I am immensely positive about the future.

This is a great time to be a New Zealander.

Our economy has out-performed other developed countries over the last five years.

Unemployment is lower than it has been since 1987.

Every region of New Zealand is positive growth mode.

If there is one challenge I have for you, it is the challenge to dream.

I challenge you to hope and to dream about your future and about New Zealand.

We have to deal with the way things are, yes.

But don't stop with the way things are; dream of the way they should be.

I want to finish with another story about the Coast.

I told you I have a couple of new ones.

This one tells you why it’s import to have a future here for all our young people.

There is an old guy who has lived all his life on the Coast.

One day he rings his son, who had moved up to Auckland.

"I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing - thirty-five years of misery is enough."

"Dad, what are you talking about?" the son screams.

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the older man says. “We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Sydney and tell her," and he hangs up.

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this."

She calls her father immediately, and screams at him, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing," and hangs up.

The older man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife.

"Okay," he says, "They're coming for Christmas and paying their own fares. Now what do we tell them for next Christmas?


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