Hamilton's future as economic powerhouse

A glimpse of Hamilton as it could be in 40 years will be available next week.

Mayor Julie Hardaker and Tainui Group Holdings chief executive Mike Pohio will outline their visions for the city's future in a free public lecture.

As part of the University of Waikato Winter Lecture Series, the look-to-the-future address will focus on the 500 ha inland port planned at Ruakura.

Mayor Julie Hardaker will present a big picture view of the city's future.

She's driving a plan to make Hamilton a river city and like Mr Pohio sees potential in becoming the North Island's main commercial hub.

The lecture is on Wednesday at Novotel Tainui Hotel in Victoria St at 6pm.

Mr Pohio says if Hamilton and the Waikato want to remain economically competitive there needs to be extensive investment in infrastructure in the region.

"If we don't plan, if we don't make Hamilton a powerhouse in the economy, then the city will flat line and risk becoming little more than a nice place to live.

" Other centres, such as Tauranga, will outgrow us and Hamilton will find itself bypassed and with decreasing influence on central government."

He says the inland port is no flash-in-the pan idea. It was developed after research and consideration, and Mr Pohio says while the long-term plan is to cover 500 ha, it won't spring up overnight - it will grow gradually.

He is all too aware of people's resistance to change but says it's easy to be negative without knowing the facts.

"We're planning for the next 30 years and beyond. The location is ideal, between Auckland and Tauranga ports, on a major rail link and with a new expressway under construction."

The lecture series runs every Wednesday during August.

Other lectures include a lecture on sustainable cities, an evening with Wales rugby coach and Waikato University alumnus Warren Gatland, and another on food that considers issues from paddock to plate.

Dame Malvina Major opened the series on Wednesday at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts with an informal master class on improving vocal technique.

More information at www.waikato.ac.nz/events/lecture-series.

- Hamilton News

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