Talking business with Anthony Haas

Summit leadership – Political support for economic development initiatives

Viv Napier

Mayor Viv Napier

How supportive are citizens for Wairarapa economic development? Former Masterton Mayor Bob Francis tells the story of how Juken Nissho wood processing factory in Carterton created employment to replace the freezing works. Maybe the leadership retired Mayor Francis took decades ago will be emulated by the mayors of Masterton, South Wairarapa and Carterton. Masterton Mayor Lynn Patterson, South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier and Carterton Mayor John Booth attended the 9th February 2017 Waitangi week economic development summit where the Masterton District Council attracted 40 businesspeople and officials to search for development ideas.

Will the ratepayers and other citizens give political support to economic development? The leaders will inevitably have to consider changes to the structure of local government, and budget allocations to support serious development initiatives.

Upper Hutt example

For an example of what can occur, readers need look no further afield than Upper Hutt to see that Council’s focus on the craft brewing industry and the commitment over a number of years of resources to support the private sector to grow an industry and create jobs.

If ratepayers do not support development Wairarapa communities may suffer from closures such as happened with the local freezing works, or challenges such as Dunedin is facing with the prospect Cadburys will close, costing more than 300 jobs. What happens if the dairy industry is turned into a sunset industry by badly managed effluent? Current Labour Party policy research into the future of work points to some industries with dim prospects. Sunset and sunrise industries should be anticipated. Some technologies decline, some flourish.

Telecommunications and computing industries show both features. Is the film industry a sensible sunrise industry for the Wairarapa? Will the local educational institutions equip the next generation with IT to make viable service industries?  Primary industries such as apples, wine, mushrooms, honey, stonefruit, kiwifruit, seeds, wood and livestock are amongst land uses occurring here and in neighbouring regions – which ones can grow more profitably here?

What will ratepayers support?

What will the ratepayers of Wairarapa do to head off a local crisis of closure, or to stimulate growth? Will there be public support for the summit initiative. Will lobby groups put their shoulders to the wheel, and join the search to attract businesses, be they agricultural enterprises or fee paying overseas students?

Desired outcomes from the Wairarapa economic development summit can be advanced in a multi-faceted programme.

The My Masterton programme, attracting Aucklanders, supported by real estate enterprises and the Masterton District Council also illustrates what can be done. Such initiatives can aim to attract asset rich, retiring Aucklanders, and other people with talent and skill.

The process for pushing Wairarapa growth has recently been Masterton led – but not owned. Who will accelerate the sales work to foster growth enterprises? What should be expected from the South Wairarapa District Council and its Mayor Viv Napier? What will local democracy push her or let her do?

ahaas@decisionmaker.co.nz

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