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Regional growth study welcomed

Thursday July 10 2014

Spearhead Manawatū spokesman Craig Nash, who leads an agribusiness working group from across the Manawatū-Whanganui region, says they have been working hard behind the scenes with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to design the study.

The Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Growth Study is being managed in partnership between central government (MPI and MBIE) and local government.  It will draw on public and private sector expertise from across the region.

"We're thrilled with today's announcement by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.  It is an excellent example of central and local government working together to catalogue opportunities for economic and employment growth in the region," Mr Nash says.

"There is a huge opportunity to grow our economy, understand our markets and further develop our agribusiness sector by utilising a regional approach across all districts in the Horizons region."

All councils in the region committed to the Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Growth Study at the Regional Territorial Authorities Forum held in March.

The region's leaders are looking forward to the opportunities the study will offer to investigate how best to build growth in the region, in particular in the agribusiness sector.

Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor says the study will provide an exciting opportunity for this region to grow and develop.

"We have been exploring ways for us to capitalise on our competitive and comparative advantages and the information this study produces will almost certainly convert into business investment in the region and more jobs," he said.

Ultimately, the study will provide a comprehensive analysis of the Horizons regional economy, its current comparative and competitive advantages, the constraints that need to be addressed and the opportunities for development.

Most importantly the study will identify actions that need to be taken to strengthen the region's economy.

Mr Nash says the work cannot simply stop with the study's completion.

"The Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Growth Study will provide a solid evidence-base. Once it is completed local agencies can then develop a separate, regional-led action plan focusing on agribusiness."

"Leaders across the region are looking to develop a comprehensive agribusiness strategy focused on understanding markets, maximising the value from our land, distribution infrastructure and investment."

"It's important to not only conduct a study, but to be able to take the knowledge and act on it."