MAYOR: Tapping into potential wins for our economy

Published: 8 December 2022

We are barrelling along to Christmas and there is much to do in a short space of time, so it was a pleasure to share some Christmas cheer with students of Mt Somers Springburn School this week.

The whole school was in town to have a swim at the EA Networks Centre pool and hang a decoration on the Christmas tree there. As has become tradition, I joined them to hang the decoration and hear the Christmas songs they have been practising.

It was a highlight of my day, and reminds me of the untapped potential of young people in our district. Foundations laid at primary school, or even earlier, are built on at secondary school and then our young adults are out in the world looking for jobs or going on to further education.

While the majority find their way, some end up not in education, employment or training (or NEETs, as they are sometimes called).

It’s this group that Council is hoping to help through a partnership between the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and the Ministry of Social Development. Our Council has been chosen to pilot a Rural Community Resilience Programme to place these young people into work.

The pilot programme will be administered by Council’s economic development team and will lean on the office of the Mayor to open doors, so if you are a business that could provide a pathway into any type of employment, then I’d love to hear from you.

I’m told by deputy mayor Liz McMillan that many other young people made quite an impression at Light up the Night last week when they performed on stage in the lead-up to lighting the town’s big Christmas tree on East Street.

The event was the first of three free Christmas events Council has organised for the community and I was disappointed to miss it, but I was representing the district elsewhere at an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand.

We have official friendship relationships with two cities  in China - one with Xianyang in Shaanxi and the other with Puyang, in the north-eastern province of Henan. The latter was established in 2000 and delegations from Puyang have visited the Ashburton District four times over the years.

These relationships can help boost business, tourism, trade and more investment in the local economy, and supporting the local economy is front of my mind.

I hope that everyone who lives here will support our local retailers as much as they can in the lead-up to Christmas, and beyond. It has been a difficult couple of years and our business community has been impacted as shopping habits changed – now’s the time to buy local and help money stay in our community.

Enjoy your Christmas parties with friends, families or workmates and if you are intending to have a few drinks, then make sure you have a ride home.

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