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The local and regional councils that administer the Porirua City metropolitan area have different, but interrelated responsibilities that must be taken into account in formulating effective economic developmental initiatives as described in Table 1 below.
Respective Responsibilities and Areas of Interest for Regional and Local Councils in New Zealand
Description of Responsibilities and Areas of Interest
Responsible for the integrated management of natural and physical resources, management of natural resources such as water and soil.
Responsible for carrying out multiple functions that enable them, among other things, to promote development projects with the private sector; also responsible for land-use planning, subdivision, service delivery, etc.; however, local councils are not involved in educational, health and welfare matters and these remain in the domain of national government.
Source: Gouldson & Roberts, p. 54
Therefore, local councils would be best suited for establishing priorities for local economic development incentives and coordinating their implementation, but many such local councils in New Zealand are already faced with a number of constraints in their operation. For instance, according to Gouldson and Roberts, "Many local authorities in New Zealand are faced with a lack of coherent national policies, with multiple and in some instances competing objectives, with over-stretched resources and with under-developed capacities for implementation."
As a result, the second step in establishing priorities for economic development would be to identify how a partnership between private enterprise and local councils can best achieve the goals of the economic development initiative. In this regard, Dalziel and Saunders report regional councils can help coordinate the resources that are needed at the local level. According to Dalziel and Saunders, "New Zealand's regional partnership programme acknowledges a particular partnership structure, recognized by the central government as being the lead agency for local economic development planning."
As noted above, the Porirua region consists of 17 suburbs and one island. In order to develop private and public sector partnership that could address the priorities of increasing online trading opportunities with the Pacific Islands, all of the affected stakeholders would need to be involved in the planning and administration of such developmental initiatives. In this regard, Dalziel and Saunders note that, "It is common to create a structure that includes members drawn from local businesses and employers, trade unions, farmers, tertiary education institutions, local politicians, local authority officers, government department employees, community non-government organizations and local volunteer groups."
The close interrelatedness of the localized resources means that any economic development initiative must be tied to what resources are available, and for Porirua City, this means people who are willing to take the necessary risks and pursue the steps needed to achieve their organizational goals. For instance, according to Blair and Carroll, in New Zealand, "Regions are pursuing entrepreneurial and cluster-based economic development strategies. Both approaches emphasize innovation and innovation is enhanced by social capital. The economic application of new ideas often centers on individual entrepreneurship -- risk taking, unique vision, leadership, and so forth."
The importance of individual risk taking in promoting economic development at the local level is well documented, but coordinating these localized efforts in a cohesive fashion requires a guiding framework to achieve the desired outcomes.
To this end, the New Zealand government has implemented several initiatives in recent years in an effort to provide a framework that develops a knowledge society, encourages innovation, builds up regional economic development, and improves usage and access to information and communications technologies (ICT).
The desired outcome for these initiatives has been to elevate New Zealand's per capita income to the upper 50% of the OECD rankings and sustain that level of performance.
Some of the current initiatives in place to promote regional and local development in New Zealand include those described in Table 2 below.
Current Local Developmental Initiatives by New Zealand Government
The Regional Partnerships Programme
This initiative is operated by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, which provides guidance and funding to assist regions identify and develop sustainable economic growth strategies.
The Clusters Development Fund
The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise sponsors this initiative with the goal of facilitating the development of business clusters with significant growth potential.
The Growth and Innovation Framework
This initiative seeks to enhance the existing innovation framework, develop people's innovation skills, increase global connectedness, and focus initiatives in areas which can have maximum impact.
This is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economic Development that has rolled out broadband communications to schools and provincial communities. A follow on from this is the setting up of contestable "Broadband Challenge Funding" to encourage the use of broadband by businesses, local and regional government and community groups.
The Digital Strategy
This initiative brings together many of the current and former initiatives of the New Zealand Government in one unifying vision. The purpose of the strategy is to work out the most beneficial way of utilizing ICT to maximize the benefits to national and local government, communities and business. The three main goals are to: enable effective use of ICT by communities; encourage innovation by business; and to improve government service.
Source: Toland & Yoong, p. 55
It is apparent that all of the foregoing initiatives emphasize the value of ICT in forging new approaches to local and regional economic development. According to Toland and Yoong, "The learning region strategy focuses on the role of networks in facilitating broad institutional learning within a regional economy. Both ICT networks and social networks are critical for the successful development of regions in New Zealand."
Helping entrepreneurs succeed in an increasingly competitive international marketplace requires using the resources that are available to their maximum advantage. Given the current relative dearth of non-agricultural-based exports from the Porirua City region, it also makes good business sense to concentrate of development new opportunities for the application of information technologies that can be more easily exported to major trading partners and beyond. Even the addition of a single or few new international contracts with trading partners in the Pacific Islands can translate into increased local and regional economic development through the multiplier effect. In this regard, Blair and Carroll report, "Communities with many small, interdependent firms may provide a rich market of intermediate goods and services as local firms are more likely to buy or sell from each other. The greater variety of intermediate inputs provides localities with more economic flexibility and resilience. It will be much easier to start a new business in an environment where information inputs are available than otherwise."
Taken together, the foregoing initiatives and trends suggest that the best course of action for Porirua City and its immediate region is to pursue additional trading opportunities, including most especially those tailored to utilize the locally produced goods and services that are predominant in this region of New Zealand. By taking advantage of the sponsored resources available through the New Zealand government describe in Table 2 above, the localized initiatives can contribute to the regional development of the Porirua City area in the near-term, and can provide the economic stimulus needed to fuel future growth as well. The same concept applies to all of New Zealand's current primary exports, but these approaches should be of particular interest to the local and regional policymakers of the Porirua City region since they hold a great deal of promise for future economic development.
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