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Anderton Address: Regional Economic Development

Anderton Address: Strong regions equals a strong nation: the importance of Regional Economic Development

Thank you for inviting me to be present here this evening for the annual meeting of GROW.

Economic growth for New Zealand is the sum of growth in our cities and regions.

New Zealand's economy will never perform to it's full potential until all our regions and industries are performing.

It has become increasingly obvious over time that the 'hands-off' approach to the economy of governments in the 80s and 90s was very convenient to governments.

Not only did they not have to do anything, but when, as a result of not being involved the economy fell further and further behind, they could claim it wasn't their fault.

As this Government has re-entered the economy we have had to roll our sleeves up and recognise that Government is a part of the economy whether it suits your ideology or laziness or not. This is considerably more work than doing nothing, and risks occasional failure.

However there is no other viable future for us than to re-engage, to get involved, learn the issues and work to improve our economy in our regions and businesses.

GROW is a good example for all districts and regions. I was interested to hear more about GROW's work in July.

GROW is exactly the sort of initiative that economic, industry and regional development is about. It starts with acknowledgement of the problem and who owns it, it involves partnership between central and local Government, business and iwi and then designs and implements ways to improve your economy.

Since GROW was initiated in 1998 you have done great things with your vision of "The Grey District as a prosperous industry centre".

Some of the achievements I am aware of include:

· GROW Management has organised youth forums and forums for the community to increase awareness of the importance of economic development. You have also redeveloped the Greymouth website.

· GROW Industry contributed to addressing the growing skills shortage by supporting the West Coast stand at the New Zealand Jobs Expo in London. You have engaged in horticulture development and a profile raising strategy for the West Coast region aimed at quality print media.

· GROW Commerce has organised retail seminars and provided leadership in the development of Greymouth's CBD.

· GROW Community has established a Youth Trust as an umbrella for the employment of a Youth Development Officer.

· GROW Tourism is addressing the training needs of local tourist enterprises

This is an impressive list of achievements and a great example and inspiration for other regions.

There is now an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the West Coast. I want to congratulate Venture West Coast and all the partners involved in bringing the Plan together. It will give your work a clear focus and direction for the future.

One of the opportunities we all have is New Zealand's ability to innovate and in the new ideas that are constantly being generated by New Zealanders.

The Growth and Innovation Framework announced by the Prime Minister on the 12th of February this year provides the national leadership for regions and sector groups.

In the Growth and Innovation Framework the Government is specific about its vision for a prosperous New Zealand. New Zealand needs to be:

· A land where diversity is valued and reflected in our national identity
· A great place to live, learn, work and do business
· A birthplace of world-changing people and ideas
· A place where people invest in the future

The Government is building up its commitment to three sectors that it believes can help to transform our economy, not just in their own right but also in their role assisting growth in other business sectors. These are-
· Biotechnology
· Information and communications technology
· Creative industries. (especially design and film)

The Labour Progressive Government has committed to returning New Zealand's GDP per capita to the top half of the OECD and maintain it there.

The reality is that if New Zealand is going to lift itself up in the OECD rankings, we're going to have to do more:

This goal will require New Zealand to achieve and sustain growth rates over a number of years in excess of our past economic performance. This is neither an easy task, nor a particularly quick one.

And there are signs that we are on track.

A couple of weeks ago the New Zealand Herald ran a story about a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report under the headline "Survey reveals economy at full steam."

It started with the very technical description of an upturn in growth; it read -" the economy is going like the clappers."

It went on to say that our economy is running into "capacity constraints"

The report from the NZIER talks positively of GDP increases higher than the annual four percent the Labour Progressive Government has targeted for sustained economic growth.

I don't believe, however, the economy is at full steam.

It is growing, and "like the clappers" is as good a description as any.

GDP in the June quarter was 1.7% - giving an annual rate of 3.7 percent growth for the year (which was well above the expectations of most commentators).

The latest (October) ANZ Bank jobs survey show a 1.1% increase in September on top of an 1.7% increase in August.

Consumer confidence remains high.

And the manufacturing, retail and service sectors are all reported as being more willing to invest and to hire more staff.

Partnerships are at the heart of the Growth and Innovation Framework:
· partnerships between both central and local government and businesses
· partnerships between businesses, both domestic and international
· collaboration amongst researchers
· partnerships between innovators and entrepreneurs, and
· of greatest interest today, partnerships between central government, and those who are working hard to achieve economic development in their own regions.

We also need to support innovation and the commercialisation of new ideas.

Innovation and ideas are driving our current growth and up and down New Zealand I see examples of just how creative New Zealanders are:
· Hamilton jet boats
· Britten Motorcycles
· Refrigerated container ships
· Tauranga Motor Mowers
· Angus Tait
· Hi Tech health care development
· Alan McDiarmid - Nobel Prize winning NZ Chemist
· West Coast: boutique breweries and restaurants, dairy farms, Solid Energy etc.

International connections are important and we need to look outwards and provide networks and contacts for our innovators and entrepreneurs to use. We don't have a sufficiently large domestic base to generate our desired level of growth.

I know that there are many activities underway throughout New Zealand to build national and international networks.
Your District's decision to go to the New Zealand Jobs Expo in London to get back New Zealanders and attract new talent Is an example of this.

Others need to use and build on your example.

We live in exciting times.

I have visited all regions of New Zealand and the growth and optimism is unlike anything I have seen in the last 40 years.

I think we have before us a huge opportunity.

The regions of New Zealand are all in positive growth mode, most at over four per cent.

There have been over 100,000 new jobs created in the last three years.

There are at the same time significant skills shortages.

There are now 3,000 new apprentices, and 3,000 more to come in this term as well as 68,000 people in industry training.

This evening we celebrate an innovation in this region that brought GROW into being and we celebrate GROW's achievements since its inception.

I encourage you this evening to celebrate your achievements thus far and then to redouble your efforts to contribute, in partnership with the Government, to economic growth and a better life for all New Zealanders.

Thank you

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