Whanganui needs to reinvent itself if it wants to maintain a decent, sound economic base, economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.
He was commenting on the decision by Cavalier Bremworth to shed 68 jobs at its Castlecliff plant.
Mr Eaqub said yesterday smaller centres like Whanganui needed to be working to cushion themselves against the impact of such events.
The broader manufacturing sector had been shedding jobs and those "little cuts" affected provincial centres.
"A lot of this has to do with the types of industries these people are working in, industries which have been shedding jobs for some time."
He said Whanganui's case wasn't helped by carpet production moving offshore.
Asked about the impact of losing a job in Whanganui compared to Auckland, Mr Eaqub said there was a huge difference. "For many small centres when you lose your job there are not many alternatives and it's that lack of opportunity that holds people back."
One solution was for Whanganui to reinvent itself.
"It needs to find some industries that it's good at. Right now it's trying things like a really big push into a digital strategy to try and be more technologically advanced and try and get tech-savvy businesses there. We don't know how successful Whanganui's going to be. But it's great that it's trying this, because it can't stay with its history."
Mr Eaqub said government had a part to play also.
"We already spend a huge amount on welfare, education and Corrections but they don't feel all joined up. We've got to work harder in these smaller places because we know that not only are we seeing the effect of job losses but we also have to be doing more in terms of positive outcomes," he said.