Building on the work already achieved under Accelerate25, Te Pae Tawhiti, and the Manawatū-Whanganui Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group, a Regional Economic Recovery Taskforce has been created to collaborate regionally and provide a cohesive, well-reasoned and powerful voice to central government.
Accelerate25 Lead Team member Pahia Turia says the global spread of COVID-19 will have a long lasting impact, which will continue to develop over the coming months and years.
“At the same time, opportunities will arise as we adapt, reshape and revitalise the Horizons Region,” says Mr Turia.
“An initial budget of $20,000 has been made available by Accelerate25 to kickstart the Taskforce.”
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall says the taskforce consists of iwi, business, local and central government leaders, and economic development agencies’ representatives who will provide a strategic, regional lens, complementing the work being done by individual councils.
Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis says the critical impacts from COVID-19 will predominately be social and economic, however opportunities for stimulating recovery also extends to our built and natural environment, our rural areas, and cultural wellbeing.
“The Taskforce work includes delivering a Regional Economic Recovery Plan, acting as a key channel for interaction with central government, identifying and pursuing opportunities to strengthen, and building our region’s economy,” says Mayor Collis.
Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith says collectively, the region’s seven territorial authorities and regional council have already submitted several hundred million dollars’ worth of ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure and environment projects to be considered as part of central government’s budget process.
“In order to develop actions to effectively address the impacts on our region’s communities, a robust data reporting and monitoring programme is required,” says Mayor Smith.
“To support the region’s economic recovery efforts, economists from Palmerston North City Council and Manawatū District Council are preparing a framework for how each of the region’s district and city councils can develop an Economic Impact Assessment.
“A shared understanding of the impacts at a macro level, will provide a foundation for the Regional Economic Recovery Taskforce to work from. This work will build on the strong collaboration and cooperation we already have as regional leaders, providing new ways to seize upon opportunities as they arise.”
Mr Turia says the Taskforce will have their first meeting in the next week or so, and that overall governance of the Taskforce lies with the regional chiefs.