Economic diversity needed for jobs in regions

The report into economic development in 16 regions  released by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce highlights significant differences between them.

. . . “The report is designed to encourage more debate about what it takes for a region to be successful, and to more clearly link the decisions that are made by local stakeholders about resource allocation and usage to the number of jobs available in a region,” Mr Joyce says.

“It is my expectation stakeholders will want to use it to compare and contrast the economic fortunes of different regions around the country, and ask themselves what lessons and opportunities there are for growth and jobs in their region.

“For businesses to succeed they need to be able to make the most of their local resources, both physical and human. They need public institutions that make sound infrastructure investment decisions, administer fit-for-purpose regulation and provide services that improve local circumstances.” . . .

It isn’t always people in the regions who are loathe to make use of natural resources.

West Coast people were very keen to continue sustainable logging of native timber. It was pressure from elsewhere, mostly urban areas, that put a stop to that.

. . . “Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need all of our regions to achieve to their potential.

“Each region needs to assess its performance and decide whether it is willing to take the opportunities that exist for jobs and economic growth.” . . .

The report shows economic diversity is important.

. . . Steven Joyce says while oil and gas will play a role in regional economic growth, diversity and developing new industries will be vital to economic success across New Zealand. . .

 “If Taranaki was just the dairy sector it would be another struggling region, even though it’s an important dairy sector part of the country, but it’s got oil and gas, has had that for a significant period of time,” says Mr Joyce.

No longer can regions afford to ignore unpopular industries, like mining, intensive farming or aquaculture, says Mr Joyce, because this will be what brings the region economic growth.

“But what is a struggle is that some regions because of the discussion and the way it flows in a region basically don’t even want to look, and that’s a bit exasperating because many of the same people in the same regions would say we need more jobs for our people, but they just don’t want to explore the opportunities.” . . .

Instead of saying a blanket no to new industries, regions need to look at how to diversify using their resources while minimising or mitigating any negative impact.

Economic diversity brings growth and also offers protection from inevitable ups and downs in demand and performance which happens in every sector.

More than 100 jobs were lost at Summit Wools Spinners in Oamaru earlier this year but unemployment went down in that quarter in spite of that because there was work available in other sectors.

Irrigation and dairying have provided a lot more work in North Otago, but tourism which has grown on attractions like the little blue penguin colony, historic precinct and steam punk is also providing work.

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