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28/08/2015 12:00 p.m.
Friday 28 August 2015
Today the Minister for Economic Development, Steven Joyce, launched the Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy – the result of collaboration of all the region's mayors and the chair of Environment Canterbury through the Mayoral Forum.
Post-earthquakes, we were told that Christchurch and Canterbury should expect a significant drop in economic prosperity but our thriving rural economy made sure that didn't happen. Now that we are told the rebuild has reached a plateau, we need to make sure the region's economy doesn't slow down. So, as civic leaders, we are acting now. Recent indications are, if we keep up the momentum, Christchurch and Canterbury can lead the country in economic prosperity.
It's a great milestone for us all to have achieved such unity and agreement on a way forward to secure the region's prosperity. Together we can reach our goal: "a region making the most of its natural advantages to build a strong, innovative economy with resilient, connected communities and a better quality of life for all".
We have talked with people from the farming, transport, tourism, immigration, tertiary education and telecommunications sectors, and have agreed on seven priority work programmes, each with a lead mayor and council. Mayors have clustered around these work programmes, supported by the Chief Executives Forum and the Canterbury Policy Forum.
Mayors are providing leadership to keep all the work programmes strongly connected. For example, to grow tourism in Canterbury, we need an efficient, safe transport network, and reliable broadband and cell phone coverage across the whole region. For both farming and manufacturing industries to thrive, we need to add more value to our primary resources (rather than merely exporting raw product), attract and retain a skilled workforce, improve productivity and ensure a reliable, high quality supply of water in towns and across the plains.
Other similarly connected priorities are: transport, education and training; freshwater management; value-added production; a skilled workforce and migrant settlement to overcome the predicted shortage of skilled workers in the region.