The official release of the government commissioned Regional Growth Study for the Manawatu-Whanganui Region (the Study) that has sought to identify and prioritise our big economic opportunities and the barriers to attaining them.
We all know that the Manawatu-Whanganui Region (including Ruapehu) has been underperforming with slow or static growth, ageing and declining populations and employment leading to decreasing opportunities for all who live here.
The Study and its recommendations provide a catalyst to put a brake on this situation.
It is a platform for starting the process of increasing investment, employment and incomes and turning our fortunes around.
The findings recognise that much of what has impacted on us has been driven by global trends and events largely outside our local control. These trends have impacted on our traditional job creators which in Ruapehu’s case was agriculture and its supporting services.
With little to fall back on and a failure to adapt quickly enough over time growth has faltered and we have ‘drifted’ to our current situation.
The Study has identified key growth opportunities for the region and the strategic areas that will require leadership and reform to enable these opportunities.
Three of the opportunities specifically reference Ruapehu being; tourism and visitor services, Manuka honey and fresh vegetable production.
The strategic reform areas are; transport and distribution, productivity of Maori land, and growing business by building capacity, scale and innovation.
While there is some potential for Ruapehu in all of the eight opportunities identified these three present the best for ease and immediacy of realisation.
While exciting the overwhelming point made by the Study is that ‘the ship will not right itself’. Putting Ruapehu back on a path to growth and prosperity will require a commitment to change and development and dedicated leadership of it. Success will however require connection and engagement from all stakeholders.
RDC invites and encourages all stakeholders to get on board with the findings of the Study and do everything in your power to help put Ruapehu onto a stronger growth path. The process of change starts now. For more information on the Study and RDC's own Economic Development Strategic Plan see the Economic Development webpage.