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Xero CEO shares ideas on transforming local economies

Xero CEO shares ideas on transforming New Zealand’s local economies

Cloud-based accounting software firm Xero could be based anywhere in the world but Chief Executive Rod Drury keeps the company’s head office in Wellington.

He told delegates at the annual Local Government New Zealand conference today why businesses locate where they do, and what makes NZX-listed Xero a global success.

Xero is an on-line accounting solution company serving more than 200,000 small businesses in over 100 countries. Mr Drury manages to run the business with its 600 plus staff in four countries while residing in his home town in the Hawke’s Bay.

He spoke about the opportunities for regional New Zealand and ways that local government can work with business to lead economic transformation.

“New Zealand is the country furthest away from its trading partners. Technology is changing the game, allowing even service based businesses to play globally. We’re moving away from manufacturing and export production to having strong knowledge based businesses, like Xero. As location becomes irrelevant New Zealand regions are well-positioned as the ideal balance between lifestyle, creativity and working globally,” Mr Drury says.

“Small towns need to start building their digital brands, with WiFi connectivity available as soon as people arrive at the airport for example. I see conversations taking place between businesses and local government in Hawke’s Bay, and I encourage businesses and councils to continue to engage with each other. Businesses are generally pretty eager to help.”

Making regions attractive for business is a key priority for local government as the country faces uneven economic growth, with some regions growing faster than others. Some regions are attracting population and others losing population.

“The country’s economic growth strategy needs to consider the nation as a whole and the needs of its regions,” LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says.

“Local government is committed to enabling and supporting economic growth across the whole country. The sector is actively exploring and embracing options to stimulate our local economies. We need central government to partner with us on a shared strategy to deliver growth that will provide benefits to all regions of New Zealand.”

Mr Drury’s presentation was kindly sponsored by New Zealand Immigration and Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

The 2014 LGNZ Conference takes place 20-22 July at Nelson, with more than 550 local government delegates attending to take part in master class sessions, hear presentations from high profile speakers about significant issues and opportunities facing the sector. The theme of the conference is Powering Local Economies, Building Vibrant Communities.


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