Study to identify growth opportunities

By David Porter

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Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment Stephen Joyce met with members of the Smart Economy Action Group. Photo / Andrew Warner
Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment Stephen Joyce met with members of the Smart Economy Action Group. Photo / Andrew Warner

The government released its 2014 Regional Economic Activity report in Tauranga yesterday, tying the launch to the announcement of a Regional Growth Study for the wider Bay of Plenty aimed at furthering development in the region.

The study was announced in a speech prepared for delivery by Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment Stephen Joyce at the official launch at the Coastal Bay Research Station.

Due to a delay in the minister's arrival because of problems with his flight from Auckland, Tauranga MP Tony Ryall stepped in to deliver the speech on his behalf.

"The study will look in detail at how this region can build upon its spectral strengths and identify further opportunities to promote economic growth," said Mr Joyce.

The minister met with more than 100 local sectoral representatives at the launch after arriving at the research station.

He later visited the Priority One-backed Ignition co-working space, where he met with members of the Smart Economy Action Group, the collaboration vehicle for local agencies and business sector representatives.

Mr Joyce also met with Peter Wren-Hilton, who opened his business incubator Wharf42 in the Ignition space this week.

The Bay of Plenty study is being commissioned by the MBIE, together with the Ministry for Primary Industries. The study will evaluate opportunities for increasing investment, employment and incomes in the wider Bay of Plenty.

"The study will inform local initiatives like your Bay of Connections strategy, and Invest Bay of Plenty," Mr Joyce said.

"It will also identify constraints to growth and how these can be overcome."

Doug Leeder, the chairman of the Bay of Connections Governance Group and of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, said the study would bring another lens to the region to reinforce and validate existing work, strategies and action plans.

"The focus is not just about building connections within the wider Bay of Plenty, but just as importantly, to build connections into the region as well," he said.

The latest Regional Economic Activity report has been released in both print and is available online in an interactive form that allows data to be extracted and compared.

Mr Joyce said the report showed that all regions had experienced GDP growth over the past four years.

"Future economic activity is likely to continue to be unevenly divided across New Zealand," he said. "Nevertheless, it is possible to build resilience and leverage opportunity in each of New Zealand's regions by investing in local skills, enabling businesses to access the resources they require, and encouraging innovation."

Building a skilled workforce was fundamental, he said.

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