Advocate Article


Inward investment is often motivated by so many personal or cultural intangibles that go beyond a pure business decision.  A person may have a desire to leave their existing business environment because for any range of social, cultural or economic reasons their current location is no longer as desirable as it once was.  Alternatively they may have an emotional attachment to an area that they wish to invest in even though that area may not stack up purely from a business perspective.

Last week I was having a discussion with a business person who was looking at moving one of his enterprises to Whangarei when he asked me what Whangarei’s strategic plan was.  I told him of the vision for the district as found on the council website and what was planned to happen here over the next 5 to 10 years as set out in the Long Term Plan.  The council does have a growth strategy for managing growth but I am not sure if this was what he meant by a strategic plan.  I think the question was more about how is local government providing a balance between regulator, facilitator, enabler and direction-setter and how does this benefit or encourage partnership with the private sector.   How does the private sector fit into their vision of where Whangarei will be in the future?

The question arising from the discussion was, what is the story local government is trying to tell, what does it want the district to be in the future, how is it going to get there and more importantly how does someone wanting to bring business here fit into this story.  This clear picture of the intended outcomes assist in establishing what will help make this happen.  Without clearly articulated intended outcomes how can private sector be sure that the risk they take can be managed.  In other words how can the intended outcomes be achieved.

In an ideal world a partnership between private and public sector would exist within a framework that facilitated growth in a manner flexible enough to deliver the strategic outcomes of a community.  I guess this is where this business person was coming from.  Where within the plans and visions are the circuit breakers that drive real change to deliver the outcomes we want for our community and if they already exist are they being clearly articulated.

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