Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore (Taskforce Chair) addressed the Regional Development Conference on behalf of the Taskforce. Garry stressed the need to take up the Taskforce’s goals as cultural goals for New Zealand. He noted the importance of ensuring young people were given positive messages of their importance in our communities and the need for them to be encouraged to participate at all levels of our society.
Garry spoke of the work of the Taskforce as the only nationwide network of Mayors. He noted that the leadership role of Mayors was to be a catalyst through raising local awareness and modelling collaborative working relationships. Mayors political role raised the profile of these issues and placed the state of local communities on the national stage. He also outlined some of the projects individual Mayors were involved in and work being carried out with the assistance of funding from the Employment Catalyst Fund.
Eleven Mayors met with Minister Jim Anderton while at the conference.
The Minister announced that the Ministry was investigating the Canterbury Development’s youth employment strategy to look at its application across the country. Initially it would appear that the scheme, which endeavours to case manager all under 20-year olds, would cost $1million per 100,000 population. However, he did acknowledge that the figures were based on the Canterbury model, which already had the infrastructure in place, and that this may not be the case in other areas of the country. He also stated he would welcome the involvement of the Taskforce in the policy draft of the proposal.
Mayors at the meeting outlined the situation in their areas with regard to employment and in particular the employment of young people. Again key themes emerged:
Dr Ernesto Sirolli gave a lively and entertaining address about the role of regional development practitioners in assisting an entrepreneurial economy. He stated that there is a direct link between entrepreneurs and the wealth of nations. Sirolli believes that it is applied intelligence, not natural resources, that separate wealthy countries from poor countries and that entrepreneurship has two key components: passion and skill.
He noted “the condition for success resides in allocating the same kind of energy and resources to responding to entrepreneurs that is allocated to infrastructure development. To have beautiful infrastructures without entrepreneurs using them or strategic plans without passionate individuals to implement them is frustrating.”
Gordon McVie echoed Sirolli’s sentiments speaking about creating enterprising communities. He noted that a strong economy and a strong society can be two sides of the same coin. Enterprise and wealth creation lie at the heart of reviving communities with the social economy and third sector also playing a key roles. He went on to outline how Scotland had set up enterprise networks as part of its drive to create enterprising communities. He outlined a number of examples of the development of a sophisticated infrastructure to support enterprise and entrepreneurship in Scotland, over the last seven years.
McVie also said that regions wanting to reverse the youth exodus to the cities need to help young people develop new opportunities in their own communities. One of the most common reasons young people leave their home town is to find a job …so they need to see there is support and encouragement in their own communities for new ideas and business opportunities.
Peter Kenyon spoke of building sustainable, healthy and enterprising communities and regions through collaboration and partnership in Australia. Peter’s interesting and vibrant presentation gave numerous examples of healthy and enterprising communities and regions noting that they displayed common features such as :
The full keynote addresses and workshop notes can be found at www.regdev.govt.nz
Overall the conference provided some good examples of overseas regional development practice and was an opportunity to make excellent connections with other people focussing on this area of work. Many speakers emphasised the importance of innovation, creativity, using all available opportunities, working with what is already there and as Vicki Buck urged “Just do it!”
The Mayors Taskforce had a high profile at the conference with Garry Moore’s address, over 10 Mayors attending and facilitating workshops and the meeting with Minister Jim Anderton. It will be important now to build on the relationships developed and move forward on some of the practical examples.