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Hawke’s Bay’s untapped potential key to prosperity

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Hawke’s Bay’s untapped potential key to prosperity

The future success of Hawke’s Bay hinges on unleashing the potential within the region, according to the first stage of a study looking at what needs to be done to improve the social and economic prosperity of the region.

The study, being coordinated and funded by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on behalf of the region’s five councils, and undertaken by McGredy, Winder & Co, aims to provide an understanding of the most effective ways of improving the social and economic performance of Hawke’s Bay.

Stage 1 of the study, which is now completed, has looked at the historical performance of the region, and identifies a number of broad initiatives which could improve prosperity. It also provides a comprehensive description of Hawke’s Bay’s strengths and weaknesses, and an evaluation of the likely benefits or returns from potential initiatives such as water storage, community development and local government reorganisation.

The report says Hawke’s Bay’s economy is vulnerable to external factors, including drought, global commodity prices, exchange rates and interest rates. Poverty and disadvantage within the region also need to be addressed and the report links investments in economic development with improvements in social prosperity.

To be more prosperous the report says the region needs to diversify and significantly deepen its economy. It believes the Ruataniwha Water Storage project is the single biggest economic development opportunity currently available to Hawke’s Bay and will act as the catalyst for a range of further economic investments and job creation.

The Regional Council Chairman, Mayors and Council Chief Executive Officers, who form the Steering Group for the study, have considered the report’s recommendations and are unanimous in their desire to outline the next steps and release them in tandem with releasing Stage 1 of the Study.

The Steering Group has agreed that Stage 2 will focus on the following areas:

• Identifying initiatives to capitalise on the economic opportunities arising from the expected increases in primary production output from additional irrigated land.
• How to better deliver for the youth of the region, through creating and maintaining more high skilled and higher paid jobs and providing incentives for people to build a future in the region.
• Further examination of the performance of local government, and the likely relative benefits that any changes will have on the economic and social performance of the region. An analysis of central government actions and where these may lead will also form a part of this piece of work. The report has identified six options for further consideration, three of these being: transferring some responsibilities for infrastructure to the regional council; a consolidation of regional council functions with Wairoa and Central Hawke’s Bay District councils and the rural area of Hastings District Council; and the region-wide amalgamation of all five councils.
• Discussions with regional network organisations, such as the Hawke’s Bay Power Consumers’ Trust, about opportunities for making regional assets work harder for the region’s benefit.

The second stage of the study will produce some recommendations for the councils to consider, and should be completed by the end of November 2012.

A copy of Stage One of the Prosperity Study is available at www.hbrc.govt.nz

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