Trickle down works with irrigation

22/12/2014

The trickle down theory has been discredited in economics but it works with irrigation and North Otago Irrigation Company’s decision to extend its scheme will provide a boost for the whole region:

The decision by the North Otago Irrigation Company to expand its scheme is a big Christmas present for the region. David Bruce looks at what it means.

It’s a pun, but the trickle-down from new irrigation in North Otago is evident in all sectors of the community.

And it’s the old story – when farmers are doing well, so is North Otago. When they shut their chequebooks, all North Otago suffers.

The figures for the first stage of the North Otago irrigation scheme, opened in 2006, tell the story, and here comes the second stage.

Our farm and the two immediate neighbours had four houses on them before the first stage of NOIC’s scheme brought water to our valley, now there are 14.

That has been repeated all over the district and the people living in the new houses have dropped the average age by decades.

The company has committed to a second stage which will spread the benefits further.

An economic benefit study in 2010 of stage 1 said it was ”the single most significant economic development” project in the Waitaki district in recent years.

Until then, and before dairy prices boomed, then collapsed, it had created 76 jobs on farms that now earn $44 million a year more than before. Since then, on-farm development has continued.

More people now live in the irrigated area, many of them young families, which had brought community and social benefits such as increased school rolls.

It also contributed to population growth in the district.

Business people in Oamaru can point to very tangible gains through the whole of the economy, not just from a more stable agricultural sector but new businesses and increases in jobs in existing businesses.

These have resulted in demands for all services, from motorcycles to new houses, and new farm service companies, particularly related to irrigation.

That was echoed by Otago Chamber of Commerce North Otago spokesman Simon Berry who was pleased with the decision.

”The benefits will be felt far and wide through the whole community. The knock-on and trickle down (from stage 1) has already been shown to be major,” he said.

In terms of new businesses, the chamber had noticed not only people returning to Oamaru but also coming in to set up new businesses, he said, quoting the Tees St Cafe and Scott’s Brewery as recent examples.

Another example was an Oamaru company which was building dairy sheds but had now expanded in to prefabricated buildings and housing which it was selling, not only in North Otago but other expanding regions.

”There are the irrigation servicing companies who are growing or have moved in to town to support the development.”

All that activity was benefiting sub-contractors such as painter and plumbers.

”Anyone who tries to get a tradie will know that.”

That was all a direct result of irrigation, Mr Berry said. . .

The mood in North Otago has been increasingly positive since irrigation first came, even when the weather’s dry and drought’s threatening as it is now, in spite of some rain at the weekend.

Nothing beats water from the sky, but there’s now enough critical mass under irrigation to drought-proof the area, giving farmers on dryland options to sell stock and/or buy supplements or grazing.

The growing optimism has been helped by growth in tourism too.

The little blue penguins, Oamaru’s beautiful old (by New Zealand standards) buildings and more recently steam punk and the Alps to Ocean cycle way have brought more people to the area, providing opportunities for artists, artisans, hospitality and other businesses which service and supply visitors.

The latest Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand crowned Oamaru the coolest town in the country.

The expanded irrigation scheme will provide another boost for the area as money spent by farmers trickles through the rest of the community and into the wider economy.

 

 

 


Here are the jobs

28/11/2013

Tuesday’s ODT  led with two good news stories.

The first is Children’s  TV for NHNZ:

Dunedin’s NHNZ is preparing to take on the likes of Disney with the launch of its own international children’s television channel.

NHNZ managing director Kyle Murdoch said, in preparation for the launch of the channel next February, 54 staff were hard at work in Dunedin producing content for it.

About 40 were new staff who had joined the office since the middle of this year. . .

About 40 new staff – these will be skilled jobs and this venture will earn export income.

And that’s not all NHNZ is doing:

Other exciting projects were under way at NHNZ, including the co-development with a Korean company of technology to transfer two-dimensional film into three dimensions.

”If you go and convert this stuff in Hollywood, it’s going to cost you about $10,000 a minute to convert, but with this technology we aim to convert it for between $10,000 and $20,000 an hour.”

The second story is more uni students expected:

Student numbers are expected to increase at the University of Otago next year, turning around three years of declining enrolments at the institution.

The prediction student numbers would rise by 1.7% to 18,918 full-time equivalent students (Efts) next year was made in the university’s budget for next year, which was tabled at yesterday’s council meeting – its last for the year.

The budget, along with the university’s forecast performance for this year, also tabled at the meeting, added to a picture of the university being in a strong financial position in the face of a challenging funding environment. . .

The university is one of the city’s biggest employers. The servicing and supplying of students and staff is also a large part of the Dunedin’s economy.

The city has been in the doldrums, partly because of the perception it hasn’t been getting its fair share of public spending. That isn’t the case and the university is one area where the government puts a lot of money.

But sustainable growth shouldn’t rely on public funding which can come and go. It must be built on a foundation of local individuals and businesses with the will and skills to prosper.

Both these stories show Dunedin can turn pick itself up by building on its strengths which include sound existing businesses with the potential to expand.

Another is the university which is one of the city’s biggest assets in financial and social terms.

It gets public funding and has the ability to earn extra export income from foreign students. It creates jobs directly and indirectly and provides opportunities for businesses which service and supply those who work and study there.

Today’ there’s another exciting headline – project worth ‘millions’ to city.

A major international investor is eyeing Dunedin with plans that could pump ”tens of millions of dollars” into the city’s economy, the Otago Chamber of Commerce says.

The unnamed organisation is in talks with members of a new Dunedin investment panel, created by the chamber, the Dunedin City Council and other city organisations, and hopes to progress plans next year.

Chamber chief executive John Christie said the development, if confirmed, would be in a ”key area” of strength for the city, and involve land, construction and a ”significant” number of new jobs for the city.

”We’re talking about tens of millions of dollars of new opportunity from the city.

”This is good. This is one of the city’s key strengths that we would be building on,” he said.

He stressed the opportunity was yet to be secured, and other New Zealand centres were also in the running, but believed Dunedin was well placed. . .

This bird is still in the bush and it’s too early to start counting its chickens but it is good to see the city being proactive.

The opportunity involved one of ”about eight” organisations now in talks with the new Dunedin investment panel, he said. . .

It comprised representatives from the chamber, council, the Otago Southland Employers’ Association and the tertiary sector, and there were plans to invite other members, as needed, Mr Christie said.

The panel aimed to improve city-wide communication and co-ordinate efforts to help attract potential investors to the city, as well as protect established Dunedin businesses and help them grow, he said.

”What we’re trying to do with that group is get the people that can make a difference around the table to understand what the issues are, and be able to make contact with those companies to see what, if anything, we can do.

”For whatever reason, some things can fall through the gaps … there’s a range of different options that can be put to people if only we know about them.”

One of the first topics of conversation for panel members had been to identify lessons from the handling of Betterways’ bid to build its $100 million, 27-storey hotel.

”I think there’s a lot of lessons learned from a lot of players, both internal and external to council, that can see that there’s a whole lot of things that perhaps we could do to be supportive as a city,” Mr Christie said. . .

Those are important lessons which the city must learn to ensure the city is supportive to existing businesses and new ones.


Only political geeks interested in political leaders

11/10/2011

The Otago Chamber of Commerce has cancelled its series of leaders debates owing to a lack of interest form from its members.

Chamber chief executive John Christie suggested many reasons why the response to the meetings by members had been low.  But in the end it came down to disinterest.   

“There’s a lot going on. The Rugby World Cup is full on and there seems to be a lot of reluctance by people to have anything to do with political leaders.”   

Some firms in Dunedin had stopped their workers from attending, citing company policy about attending any political meetings during work time, he said.

Even if the business environment wasn’t as difficult as it is, it’s understandable employers would rather have their staff at work than at political meetings – though we might make an exception for National MPs :).

Other members had expressed their satisfaction with the way things were going.   

If you’re happy with the government, why waste time listening to the opposition?

The lack of interest was not a reflection on the leaders; it was more the public not being interested, Mr Christie said.   University of Otago political scientist Bryce Edwards said it was disappointing the series had ended but he could understand that people were not interested in political leaders.   

 “If I was a normal citizen I would not bother going to see Phil Goff. Apart from political geeks like us, people are not interested in political leaders.”   

I started my journalism career in election year and had to cover election meetings. In those days under First Past the Post the leaders of National and Labour would attract hundreds of people, now under MMP we have more parties and leaders but most would be lucky to attract dozens to a meeting.

As an abnormal citizen, one of those political tragics, I sometimes attend a meeting addressed by politicians other than National ones, to find out how they perform in real life rather than through the media.

That more people don’t is a reflection of competing demands on time and a disengagement from politics and the political process.

That’s not good for democracy, especially under MMP which gives so much power to the wee parties.


Rotary turns Peters down

02/09/2008

The Rotary club of Dunedin  has withdrawn a speaking invitation to Winston Peters but the Otago Chamber of Commerce will still welcome him.

Mr Peters stood aside from his role as Foreign Affairs Minister on Friday after the Serious Fraud Office began an investigation regarding donations to his party.

Rotary club committee director Chris Willis said last night Mr Peters was to have spoken in his capacity as Foreign Affairs Minister on New Zealand’s place in the world.

Because he had stepped aside, and because the September 19 date was getting closer, it was decided to withdraw the invitation, Mr Willis said.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said Mr Peters was still expected to speak – in his role as the leader of a political party – at a business function on the same date.

“That hasn’t changed yet. It should be an interesting meeting,” Mr Christie said.

Interesting is such an interesting adjective.


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