It has been nearly a year since our last newsletter, as Accelerate25’s resources were reallocated to the COVID-19 economic response in our region, therefore putting Growing our Region in a period of hiatus. That time has also allowed us to review and refresh Accelerate25 to ensure the programme’s focus and goals are aligned with the Manawatū-Whanganui region’s economic priorities. As they say, out of crisis comes clarity and the past twelve months have certainly allowed that.
The review and refresh process for Accelerate25 actually began in early 2020, prior to COVID-19 hitting our shores. Stakeholder interviews with members of Māori, business and broader communities were completed, along with a survey of 176 members of the business community. We were then able to incorporate the economic recovery work carried out in response to COVID-19 with a renewed economic development plan for the Manawatū-Whanganui region. This plan is known as the A25 refresh and is in its final draft stages and currently being presented to councils and key stakeholder groups across our region.
We also welcomed the recent announcement the recent regional economic recovery announcement made by Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash, while he was in Palmerston North meeting with members of the Accelerate25 Lead Team.
Where we are at
The Accelerate25 review found that in terms of identity and confidence the Manawatū-Whanganui region has made great strides since the inception of Accelerate25’s Economic Action Plan. At many levels, including leadership, the region feels more integrated and open to working collaboratively.
Our region now has a strong “make it happen” mind set with the potential to be more than the sum of its parts, to be a significant growth centre in the New Zealand economy. Under Accelerate25, our region has organised ourselves well to drive growth off central government initiatives and strategies. When government invests here, good people commit their own time and effort, delivering a better return on government spend.
A key strength of Accelerate25 and the Lead Team is that it is has been there to enable by facilitating and encouraging thought leadership and pressing parties to invest in the region. This has enabled councils, Economic Development Agencies and business enterprises to undertake the doing role.
Palmerston North City Council release a bi-annual economic indicators report for the Manawatū-Whanganui Region with the most recent from December 2020. It reveals an improvement in the rate of growth for the region, with pressure on housing and growth in residential construction being a major contributor to job growth. Major projects such as the $450 million Mercury Energy windfarm, the $650 million Te Ahu Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway and new infrastructure at Ohakea are also major contributors. PNCC’s June 2021 report is expected later this year.