Work to lift Waikato economy receives a boost

Issued on behalf of the Waikato Means Business Steering Group

Four projects to help lift the Waikato region’s economy have been given a boost with an injection of funds.

The high-level steering group implementing the region’s new economic development strategy, known as Waikato Means Business, approved funding for three new projects and indicated support for a fourth when they met last Monday, 7 December.

The projects include development and rollout of a new ‘Waikato Story’, commencement of five pilot sites for linking schools and employers, and a monitoring and review programme to check progress on strategy goals.

Steering group chair John Cook, of Stainless Design Ltd, said: “It’s exciting to support projects that could make a real difference for people living in the Waikato. They’ll help to promote the region and attract business, and create job opportunities for school leavers.

“Ultimately, these Waikato Means Business projects will help us to achieve the vision of improving the standards of living in the Waikato region, where all people, communities and business reach their potential.”

The Waikato Means Business strategy and associated implementation plan is an ongoing collaborative process between industry and business leadership groups, tertiary education providers, iwi-Māori and local and regional authorities.

The steering group includes representatives from all these groups and meets on a quarterly basis to advise on, guide and support the implementation of the strategy.

Mr Cook said that, in addition to a wide range of projects already underway, the extra projects agreed to or being looked at would further the strategy’s objectives.

“We’ve agreed to provide funding to support the further development and rollout of the Waikato Story ($124,000), the commencement of five pilot sites for the Secondary School Employer Partnership programme ($60,000), and the development of a monitoring and review programme so we can report to the region on progress against the goals of the strategy ($26,000).”

A fourth project still under development aims to support a Māori Economic Development Agenda and Action Plan for the Waikato and has received $30,000, subject to final support of the concept from a Waikato iwi economic forum.

Steering group deputy chair and Waikato Tainui chief executive Parekawhia McLean said: “The Māori economy in the Waikato is not yet living up to its potential. Through this agenda and plan we’ll be able to guide Māori on how to best contribute towards the economic goals of the region, while also fulfilling the potential of their iwi and hapū.”

Seed funding for Waikato Means Business is provided through Waikato Regional Council’s 2015-2025 Long Term Plan. This provides up to $250,000 per annum to help fund the implementation of the strategy. All of the above projects are also seeking co-funding from other providers.

“A huge thanks to WEL Energy Trust for the financial support they’ve already provided to these projects – it closely matches the funding provided by the steering group,” said regional council chairperson Paula Southgate.

“We expect the regional council’s funding and that already pledged by the WEL Energy Trust will act as a kick start to encourage other key partners and stakeholders to also contribute to the implementation of the strategy,” Cr Southgate said.

The steering group expects to release its first annual Waikato Means Business monitoring and evaluation report in mid 2016.


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