Dame Margaret Bazley at the economic development strategy launch with Ron Mark, left, and Shane Jones. PHOTO/ELISA VORSTER

More to plan than getting money out of provincial growth fund.

ELISA VORSTER

elisa.vorster@age.co.nz

The team driving the region’s Economic Development Strategy believe it is the only way to maintain momentum in Wairarapa’s economy and plan infrastructure which allows for future growth.

Carterton’s Dame Margaret Bazley is chairing the strategy governance group, made up of the region’s three mayors and Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw, which is working to support bids for money from the government’s $3b provincial growth fund.

A permanent programme manager is yet to be appointed, but Masterton District Council economic development manager is interim manager and has been working closely with the group for the past three weeks.

“In terms of the timeframe, there’s obviously some urgency to maximise the opportunities that the provincial growth fund provides, but we’re also looking through a long-term lens as well,” Chamberlain said.

“The strategy is not just designed for getting money out of the provincial growth fund, it’s a more holistic vision for the region.”

Dame Margaret said the strategy was not an end in itself, but was about improving the standard of living for the people.

“The strategy will keep the young people here and that’s what keeps the region vibrant,” she said.

“If you have a strategy that is looking out into the future as to how the economic growth can be maintained and grown then you’re really looking at jobs for people, particularly the young people and that’s really where you want to end up long-term.”

She said the region has suffered in the past from a “sluggish economy” and people left because there was no work for them.

“In the 90s there was a period where the economy was very flat.

“It’s important you capture opportunities for growth and continue to develop and show it’s not just a flash in the pan.”

Dame Margaret said a successful bid in the Provincial Growth Fund would mean actions in the strategy could be implemented more quickly.

“It’s so important the Wairarapa gets a fair share of that money so we’ve had to get focused on it incredibly quickly.”

She was impressed by the response from key people in the region so far, which was highlighted by the attendance at the strategy’s launch earlier in the month.

“The fact all those people turned up indicates their concern for the future.

“It shows everyone is holding hands instead of little cells beavering away.”

The governance group is hoping to get positive outcomes for some of its early bids in the New Year.