The Manawatu-Whanganui Growth Study has been released this morning by the government in Palmerston North. It is one of a series of reports on selected regions aimed at identifying their economic potential.
Mr Smith says the report challenges Palmerston North to make the most of its opportunities as a national transport and logistics hub as well as the considerable investment already made in food technology.
It is pleasing to see Palmerston North described as a "key staging point and distribution centre" for freight between Auckland and Wellington and also to a degree between Auckland and the South Island, he says.
"We agree that we need to capitalise on this development by lobbying the New Zealand Transport Agency for further investment in the regional roading network in anticipation of a growing volume of freight. We'll also continue working closely with our partners in rail and airfreight. "
Another opportunity identified in the report is the call centre market. Palmerston North is already attracting business from a variety of sectors including retail, transport and insurance.
"The industry has a growing emphasis on promoting better customer service and we have a friendly and willing workforce. We believe the region can realistically meet its target of doubling the number of call centre jobs to 2000 within three years," he says.
The study also highlights the potential of FoodHQ, New Zealand's international centre for collaborative food research, based in Palmerston North.
"We are confident FoodHQ will succeed in attracting international companies and generating export dollars. It will promote the skills of the region and the country as a whole," he says.
Mr Smith has been appointed to the" lead team," a group of regional leaders drawn from iwi, local government and business who will be responsible for developing an Action Plan to implement the report's findings.
"We won't be letting the grass grow under our feet. Our city prospers when the whole region prospers and vice versa. It is as simple as that, "he says.