Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges has joined Taranaki councils and the business community to launch an economic development strategy for the region.
Bridges is in New Plymouth to join the local community at the launch of Tapuae Roa - Make Way for Taranaki, which provides direction for the region's economy.
“Taranaki's economy is mostly based on the oil, gas, dairy, manufacturing and other sectors. This strategy will build on this through boosting skills and enterprise to grow Taranaki into a modern, high-value economy," Bridges says.
“While the region has a noteworthy technology profile, the strategy also highlights the lifestyle and culture of the region. The region can be proud of its achievements with the award-winning Len Lye Centre, the coastal walkway, WOMAD and many others.
The strategy was commissioned by Taranaki's four councils and was developed by business and iwi leaders, the region's councils and central government.
It identifies a number of action areas including boosting tourism and visitor services, growing the Maori economy and focusing on improving skills and innovation.
“The opportunities highlighted in the strategy will go a long way to Taranaki continuing its reign as the second best region in the world as voted by Lonely Planet, building on its visitor sector and taking the economy to the next level,” Bridges says.
An action plan currently being developed will be released later this year and will identify priority actions to deliver the regional strategy.
Through the Regional Growth Programme, central government agencies will work in partnership with Taranaki stakeholders to develop and implement the action plan.
Several different options are being considered in order to improve business support systems in the plan.
The options aim to provide direct support to the development of talent and enterprise by providing operational support to businesses at their different stages of development, from early startup to mature operation.
There is strong regional interest in the improvements to rural broadband in Taranaki capable of being achieved when the funding for the second round of the rural broadband initiative is announced.
Depending on the outcome, there may be an opportunity for further local investment to leverage Government investment in improving coverage in the region.
Another proposal in place is for an innovation hub, which could take a variety of forms and is likely to comprise both “bricks and mortar” and virtual forms.
The hub would serve as a centre of talent and enterprise, leading to innovation.
Related to the idea is the proposal for Taranaki's first incubator.
Currently, co-working space Manifold fills the gap for an incubator, but more needs to be done.