The ODT’s Stand Up Otago campaign was sparked by the announcement of major jobs losses at Invermay Agricultural Research Centre.
Those who joined the campaign seemed to be looking to government to help Dunedin and the province.
But a recent editorial, correctly, looks beyond government for growth:
. . . The Government needs to know the anger and outrage in Dunedin as it abandons the city in these areas. The Government needs to play its part in Dunedin’s future.
Nevertheless, the retention of such jobs is but one part of economic development and Dunedin’s future. At the next level, the mayor and the council need to be accountable for their part.
It is fine for the council to point to its economic development unit and its work to convince Wellington politicians about government and quasi-government jobs. But just how supportive of business is the council from top to bottom?
Through planning, building permits, transport planning, rates and so on, is the council in fact business friendly?
Does what it provides impress possible immigrants to Dunedin? Does it and the city generally project the attitudes and produce the goods that make Dunedin an attractive place in which to live. The council must ”stand up” for the city.
What, too, about the attitudes of business people, workers and residents in the South? Do we really want, in matters both large and small, to be efficient, effective and positive?
Is our customer service, as has been claimed, at best mediocre?
Would a new business really want to set up here when the attitudes around it are slack and making progress is much harder that it should be? Would residents want to live here because we are friendly, vibrant, proud, helpful?
Do high standards flow through our hospitals and in our schools? Can we show the rest of the country we are superior in what we do and how we do it? Business and residents must ”stand up” for the city.
Dunedin has many inherent advantages, not least of which are relatively high education standards and relatively low numbers of social problems.
It has an intellectual, social, sporting and cultural life well beyond what might be expected in a small city. We also have companies blazing trails and quietly doing the business. This all needs to be built on and fostered.
Although we do not expect the Government wrongfully to strip away jobs, Dunedin as a community fundamentally has much of its future in our own hands.
The raw fact is that, in an intensely competitive world, Dunedin has to ”stand up” for itself.
We are all responsible for growth.
Government has a part to play but that should be a small part in comparison to our own efforts.
Government should create the environment for growth but it doesn’t create jobs. Those come from businesses and they’re much more likely to grow in places which are vibrant and welcoming and with a culture that celebrates enterprise and success.