A new action plan for the region is promising many economic benefits.
Accelerate25 was held in Whanganui last week by Government officials who unveiled the Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan.
Of particular significance to the region was the opportunity to improve roading, with a grant of $500,000 from the NZ Transport Agency to develop a business case for the Palmerston North Ring Road system. This is cited as a crucial enabler for the distribution and transport of regional freight.
Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith said councils in the region had been lobbying for this investment.
"Palmerston North and the region are already well recognised as a freight distribution hub ... Many firms are investing in freight distribution centres, including the development of an inland port and freight hub."
The action plan has taken 12 months to develop and is the result of last year's Regional Growth Study. The aim of the plan is to speed up social and economic growth by 2025 and has identified nine action recommendations.
These include fields such as tourism, aged care, business outsourcing and realising Maori potential.
Accelerate25 team leader and Horizons Regional Council chief executive Michael McCartney said the plan was a balanced report that would contribute to the region's prosperity.
"These opportunities are spread around the region, from major land users such as agriculture and realising Maori potential, through to major tourism areas of Ruapehu and a quality aged care pilot in Levin.
"The Plan also includes a focus on skills training, transport infrastructure, digital connectivity and ways to help businesses grow."
Another major benefactor of the plan is FoodHQ. This will be the home of New Zealand's largest agri-food research centre, and will be jointly built by Massey University and AgResearch.
The action plan said FoodHQ was the vehicle to drive world-class research and development.
It states the first priority would be by attracting new multi-national food companies who see the benefits of conducting their work with FoodHQ. The goals for this include doubling the number of scientists, researchers and students to 4000.
Those behind the plan believe this is both an opportunity and an enabler, as FoodHQ generates revenue, jobs and business opportunities.
- To view the entire plan, visit www.accelerate25.co.nz