Implementation of a new economic development strategy for the Waikato is gathering pace, with a number of projects well underway and a private-public governance group in the process of being finalised.

The strategy – initiated by the Waikato Mayoral Forum – was released last year, with an implementation plan completed earlier this year.

The implementation plan for the strategy identified seven actions:

  • Developing the Ruakura Hub inland port
  • Completing the Waikato Expressway
  • Creating a new Waikato Plan for the region
  • Undertaking a study of constraints on growth and future investment opportunities
  • Improving the supply of and demand for skilled labour
  • Reducing local government red tape for business
  • Creating a better Waikato marketing ‘‘story’’ to help facilitate growth

An update at a recent mayoral forum meeting in Hamilton heard how a private and public sector governance group was close to being finalised to oversee implementation of the strategy. 

An announcement on membership is expected soon. 

The Ruakura Hub proposal is under ongoing development, while funding for the entire expressway has now been confirmed by the New Zealand Transport Agency. 

The development of a Waikato Spatial Plan, a 30 year vision for the region, is being carried out under the guidance of a joint committee made up of representatives of councils from across the Waikato, with private sector input. 

A number of workshops have been held across the Waikato to take in views on the story the region should tell about itself for marketing purposes. 

The story’s development, being paid for by the regional council, is expected to be completed midyear. 

A strategy looking at the supply of and demand for labour has been completed by a public and private sector steering group and details are expected to be announced shortly. 

A number of councils have begun working together on how they can reduce red tape for business wanting to set up or expand in the Waikato. 

An approach is due to be made to central Government shortly on getting its support for the development of a detailed study on how to further drive growth in the region. 

Such studies have been undertaken in a number of other North Island regions in recent years. 

The current implementation plan work is being funded by existing private and public sector commitments. The regional council, in its Long Term Plan, has suggested collecting $350,000 annually over the next two years to fund the ongoing work needed. 

Forum chairman Allan Sanson, the mayor of Waikato District, said it was satisfying to see the way the region’s councils were working together on achieving the vision of the economic development strategy which is ‘‘to improve standards of living in the Waikato region, where all people, communities and business reach their potential’’. 

‘‘There is a wide range of activities going on across the region to support Waikato’s economic growth agenda, and many ideas for improving our performance,’’ said Sanson. 

‘‘It is important that we work in a joined up way on both boosting growth and future planning for our region’s development generally. 

‘‘The economic development strategy and the Waikato Plan are the tools we have collectively chosen for this and council leaders are united in their determination to ensure they deliver the goods for the wellbeing the people in our region. 

‘‘We want to work with business, iwi, central Government and a wide range of stakeholders to achieve our objectives. 

‘‘Making improvements to our living standards, whilst maintaining and enhancing the attractiveness of the region as a place to live, will require an ongoing and combined effort,’’ said Sanson.


- Hamilton Press

Image: NZ Transport Agency

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