Growing Our Region

Growing our Region – September 2022

Spring has finally sprung and while living with Covid has become the new norm, our business communities across the region are continuing to feel the ongoing effects of staff shortages and delays in supply as we grapple with recovery from the pandemic.

To add to the pressure, inflation recently hit a 32 year high, reaching an annual rate of 7.3%. Household costs and fuel are the major influences, with economists predicting inflation likely to remain elevated for some time yet. It is important to acknowledge those in our communities who are doing it incredibly tough. They are feeling considerable pressures on their household income and are limiting their spending accordingly, making difficult choices on a daily basis.

While caution remains for our local businesses as spending drops, at a regional level this is offset somewhat as our diverse economy shows signs of remaining resilient. Large scale projects such as Te Ahu Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway, Te Pūwaha: the Whanganui Port revitalisation project, Otaki to North of Levin Expressway and Te Utanganui: Central Distribution Hub to name a few, are all progressing well, improving our collective wellbeing, and creating economic opportunities for our community.

Te Utanganui was recently promoted to 600 delegates at the Local Government New Zealand conference as a major attraction for freight and distribution companies to make their home. This is a collaborative effort between local and central government, iwi and commercial entities which will bring potential growth not just to the Manawatū, but also to our wider region. Find out more about Te Utanganui in this update.

We also feature the Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Skills Leadership Group (RSLG) who proudly launched their Regional Workforce Plan in July, focusing on the Kaiāwhina Health Workforce and School Transitions.

Our innovator spotlight focuses on Techlam, a leading manufacturer of glulaminated timber based in Levin. Techlam recently received a funding boost from the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund as they continue to build their manufacturing capability and become more sustainable. We talk to managing director Brett Hamilton about what this means for his company.

While times are certainly challenging for many, our region is in good heart as we continue to see a push for innovation and growth from many sectors. For those in need of business support, your local economic development agency is often an excellent first port of call. By supporting each other, whether its buying local or utilising avenues for funding and training, we as a region will come through these challenges and ensure a positive future outlook.

Michael McCartney Lead Team Facilitator, Accelerate25

Regional skills workplan launched

The Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Skills Leadership Group proudly launched their first Regional Workforce Plan at Te Matapihi – Bulls Community Centre in July, with smaller launches also conducted in Levin and Danniverke this month. This iteration of the Plan focused on the Kaiāwhina Health Workforce and School Transitions.

“The Regional Workforce Plan is the culmination of months of engagement with stakeholders across the whole region, from Ruapehu right down to the Horowhenua,” says Katarina Hina, Co-Chair of the Manawatū-Whanganui RSLG.

“We want our people to have opportunities to upskill and prosper within the workforce. This will have wider impacts for whanau in our communities,” says Oriana Paewai, the Iwi Co-Chair for the Manawatū-Whanganui RSLG.

“This Regional Workforce Plan sets out how this is possible. The plan is not just rhetoric – it includes a list of actions we are committed to implementing, as well as a set of recommendations for central government and key regional actors.”

The Regional Workforce Plan contains actions and recommendations addressing four cross-cutting issues:

– Support for development and awareness of pathways to entry-level training and employment is in high demand

– Localisation of provision that accounts for the needs of local learners and industry

– Partnerships and collaboration facilitate greater information sharing across the region

– Ensuring that national-level decision-making is aware of regional needs and intentions

The next iteration of the Regional Workforce Plan will focus on Freight, Logistics and Warehousing and Seasonal aspects of the Food and Fibre Sector, and will be released mid-2023.

Investors eyeing central New Zealand freight distribution hub – Te Utanganui

The unique connectivity between air, road, rail and sea (via an inland port) is one of the major attractions for freight and logistics companies making their home at Te Utanganui, the Central New Zealand Distribution Hub.

The hub, located within Manawatū, north-east of Palmerston North near Bunnythorpe and encompassing the 24/7 consented Palmerston North Airport and its Ruapehu Business Park, is the natural and logical centre for distribution across central New Zealand and is now poised for unprecedented growth.

Local innovator spotlight: Techlam

Based in Levin, glulaminated timber manufacturers Techlam  are continuously innovating and sourcing opportunities for growth.

As one of only two companies in New Zealand supplying the projects market, they export their products all over the globe.

Recently, Hon. Stuart Nash announced that Techlam will receive up to $1.75 million from the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund to procure and install machinery for reducing manufacturing landfill by up to 25%, and enable processing of a large -proportion of its waste into value-added products.

We caught up with Techlam managing director Brett Hamilton to find out what this means for his business.