Last Tuesday the Chamber of Commerce organised a special Focus on Business Event featuring Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Michael is also a director of Grow Rotorua, our city’s economic development company. His address was on the importance to New Zealand of the Economic Golden Triangle, the combined regions of Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.
This region comes together as the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance, known by the acronym of Unisa. The purpose of the Unisa Agreement is to establish a long-term collaboration between the authorities of Northland Regional Council, Whangarei District Council, Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Tauranga City Council.
The first order” priorities for this inter-regional collaboration are: economic development linkages, transport including rail, roads, freight, ports including inland ports, tourism, emergency preparedness, waste, water, population and settlement patterns, liveability, commercial and industrial land development, international connectivity and competitiveness air, sea, broadband, energy security, climate change, including greenhouse gas emission reductions.
This region has 51 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP. It has 52 per cent of New Zealand’s current population, which is predicted to grow to 55 per cent in 2015 and 60 per cent by 2031. The region has 50 per cent of New Zealand’s workforce and 54 per cent of businesses.
It was highlighted that Rotorua does not currently sit around that table when they discuss strategies to develop further regional co-operation.
Michael encouraged those present to start a conversation on how we can plug ourselves into the exciting future opportunities that this Golden Triangle offers. He highlighted the strategic strengths of our region forestry, tourism, agriculture, horticulture, geothermal, and transport and logistics, and emphasised the contribution that we make to the region. Rotorua District should seek to join Unisa alongside the other local authorities of Whangarei, Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland.
As a Chamber we believe that the conversation that Michael suggests is critical to the future of our city. Over the next few months, we will be staging a number of sessions that will contribute to this conversation.
We hope all of you will contribute to the discussion as it is a “whole of community” issue that will guide our future.”