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Laban: Wellington Development Agency Launch

Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban
Associate Minister of Economic Development

5.30pm, Wednesday 13 February 2008

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency Launch
Oceania Room, Te Papa

Taloha ni, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaste, Kia orana koutou katoatoa, Ia Orana, Gud de tru olgeta, Talofa, Kia ora tatau and Warm Pacific Greetings to you all.

Good evening and thank you Murray for your introduction.

I am delighted to be here today to launch the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency.

It is great to see representatives from local government, business, my fellow Wellington regional members of Parliament and many of my parliamentary colleagues, here together to celebrate the launch of Grow Wellington.

I would particularly like to acknowledge:
* Sir John Anderson from the Wellington Regional Strategy Committee
* Fran Wilde, Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council
* Mayor David Ogden, Hutt City Council; Mayor Wayne Guppy, Upper Hutt City Council; and Mayor Garry Daniell, Masterton District Council

I also bring warm greetings from our Prime Minister Helen Clark and Economic Development Minister Pete Hodgson.

It’s fantastic to see such a wide range of businesses from the Wellington region here tonight, all of whom I’m sure share a goal to grow the economies of the Wellington region and New Zealand. Grow Wellington's role is to work with you in facilitating this growth and I am very pleased that you could all be here this evening.

The Wellington region has a long history of partnering with central government to grow the economic development of the region - one of which is arguably the most high profile of any Major Regional Initiative - the sound stage project in Miramar. This partnership saw the establishment of a world class facility to support the growth of the creative sector.

The sound stage provides two key advantages: a fully soundproofed studio in which filming can take place uninterrupted by weather and noise, particularly from the airport, and the ability to attract more than one movie at a time with two large sound stages adjacent to each other.

An economic assessment prepared by NZIER estimates the impact on the regional economy if the new facility is able to attract one mid-budget film every two years would be an injection of $250 million over ten years. If the facility attracts a high budget film every two years, the injection is estimated at $650 million over ten years.

The Wellington Sevens Tournament is another great example of our region holding a successful event with huge benefits to local business. The sevens are more than just about the rugby and the "interesting" outfits! The tournament contributes more than $10 million to Wellington's economy as the capital's restaurants, bars and hotels swell with an influx of around 25,000 out-of-towners for the weekend. And the good news is we have secured the event for another three years.

Just over six months ago, the Labour-led government’s enhanced approach to regional economic development came into being.

We reshaped our regional economic development policy after six years because the environment that our industries and firms were working in had changed substantially – strong growth in the regions had led to strong growth in employment - the latest Household Labour Force Survey results show we now have the highest level of employment recorded since the survey began in 1986.

We needed to realign our programmes so that they matched our overall goal of increasing New Zealand's competitiveness.

As such, I am delighted to be here today to see the Wellington region embracing the opportunities that a collaborative and coordinated approach to economic development offers regions and the New Zealand economy as a whole.

Wellington identified the need to improve the international competitiveness of the wider region early, launching its Wellington Regional Strategy a year ago. This strategy encompasses not only Wellington, Porirua and Hutt cities, but also Kapiti Coast, Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa.

With its specific focus on leadership and partnerships, as well as growing the region’s exports, the Wellington Regional Strategy aligns very well with our push to transform the New Zealand economy.

Unifying the Wellington region under the Wellington Regional Strategy also contributes to our wish to build greater scale and capability at the regional level.

I would like to acknowledge the work of the councils and their vision to work together. While a number of other regions already operate at a cross-regional level, it would be fair to say that the Wellington region has led the way in showing how a previously segregated region can come together to develop a shared vision and unified strategy.

The hard work behind building this strategy takes the next step today with the launch of Grow Wellington.

I congratulate all the people and organisations involved with bringing things to this point. You have shown unity and determination to work together for the good of the region and New Zealand.

There will be challenges, but also many opportunities, ahead as this new agency pulls together the many strands that weave regional economies together.

I know organisations like New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry for Economic Development – both of which are responsible for various parts of the this government’s regional economic development strategy – are looking forward to working with you to help the Wellington region grow.

Likewise I would like to urge businesses in the region to work with Grow Wellington to give its strategy the support and follow through that will be required to achieve its goals. Grow Wellington is here to provide effective support and links for business and I would encourage you to get involved.

New Zealand though a small player has proven it can make it on the international stage. Sowing the seeds of growth at a regional level will also allow our nation to reap the rewards globally. But improving our standing on the world stage will also require regions and businesses around New Zealand to work together and become more connected internationally.

I look forward to seeing how Wellington’s growth contributes to New Zealand’s aspirations to successfully compete globally and grow its economy into one that is innovative and export-led.

Congratulations Grow Wellington.


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