Regional economy healthy, growing

By Jordan Bond

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Raewyn Overton-Stuart
Raewyn Overton-Stuart

Whanganui business confidence is high on the back of a growing regional economy.

Newly-released figures from Statistics New Zealand show gains in a key measurement for the business sector.

Gross domestic product (GDP) figures for the Manawatu/Whanganui region are at an all-time high of $9.2 billion, up from $9.14 billion a year earlier and $8.66 billion in 2013.

Whanganui Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Raewyn Overton-Stuart said increasing GDP figures were welcome but not surprising after a few years of declines.

"We expected to see an increase," Mrs Overton-Stuart said.

"We've seen a population increase and a number of new, small businesses coming to Whanganui."

The region's GDP has almost doubled in the past 15 years. Downturns in the dairy sector have affected the whole country but Mrs Overton-Stuart said strategic planning has helped the regional GDP to rise five out of the last six years.

"I think it shows the fruit of close relationships that have been formed among the Chamber, the Council and Whanganui and Partners, who have all worked together to bring some positivity to the region," she said.

"There is a concerted and concentrated effort. We're all working toward the same thing."

Nationwide, 11 of 15 regional economies grew in the 2015 financial year.

Auckland and Canterbury had the largest GDP increases in the country, at $5.7 billion (6.9 per cent) and $2.3 billion (7.3 per cent) respectively, with Canterbury overtaking Wellington for the second highest value.

Decreases were recorded in Southland, at .5 billion (9.9 per cent), Waikato, at .4 billion (2.2 per cent), Taranaki, at .3 billion (3.3 per cent), and the West Coast, at .1 billion (5 per cent). These decreases reflected a fall in agricultural activity.

New Zealand's total GDP was $241.2 billion, increasing $8.7 billion (3.7 per cent) from 2014.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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