From the Mayor - Vision for the Future

8/10/2014 12:00 a.m.

I read in The Guardian's 135th birthday supplement that in 1988 several hundred people packed the Holyoake Auditorium for a meeting on the district's economic future.

What a tremendous turnout. It would be fantastic if Mid Canterbury's 20 year Strategic Economic Vision - currently out for community feedback - receives the same level of support, if not more.

Having hundreds of views, suggestions and thoughts on the draft Economic Vision and how the district can develop and grow its economy and community would be hugely insightful and helpful for those who work tirelessly leading the district's long term prosperity.

The 20 year vision makes for fascinating reading, capturing where we are as district and shaping where we want to be 20 years from now.

Reading the Guardian's old articles reminded me just how quickly the economic fortunes of a district can change. From riding the highs of the 1950s when the district was in the top 12 electorates for income level dropping to  92nd electorate out of 96 in 1988".

In the late 1980s Ashburton District was experiencing high unemployment; seven percent of its workforce was unemployed compared to today's low unemployment rate of 2.9 percent - the national figure is 7.1 per cent. 

At the time there was concern about farming's low profitability, businesses were closing and many young people were leaving the district seeking work opportunities.

You may be asking why this is important to mention now.

While our local economy has been going from strength to strength for some years we still need to plan and prepare for the future so that we can continue to prosper.  This is why our Mid Canterbury Strategic Economic Vision is so important.

You have an opportunity to help shape the Vision and make sure the economic development of the district is sustainable and so that come 2034, our children and grandchildren inherit a place they can be proud of.

A growing local economy means a better standard of living for everyone in our community because it tends to attract more skilled workers, health, education and social services and community facilities.

Attracting new business to the district is an important part of future growth and we need to be assisting businesses, no matter how big or small, to make the commitment to invest in Mid Canterbury.

We should also be helping existing businesses who want to expand see the value in doing so here rather than looking elsewhere.  We've a number of great businesses that've done that and are continuing to be very successful.

The Ashburton District is very fortunate to have a dedicated Business Estate. Creating a business hub does take time and it's wonderful a number of businesses are up and running at the estate and doing well.

Growing our business community is just one means of achieving long-term growth for the Ashburton District but there's so much more like tourism and lifestyle opportunities that we can leverage off to make sure Mid Canterbury continues to have a thriving economy.

I encourage you to have your say and help shape our future by providing feedback on Mid Canterbury's 20 Year Strategic Economic Vision.

To have your say visit www.growmc.co.nz/vision

Angus McKay
Mayor

Page reviewed: 08 Oct 2014 9:06am