News: Agencies unite to maximise economic growth in Bay (1)


These opportunities include aquaculture, expansion of kiwifruit on Maori land and education and skills and workforce development, which Toi-EDA Chairman John Galbraith says are big short- and medium-term opportunities to improve the region’s employment and wealth.

“The Ōpōtiki sea farm and harbour developments are well understood and will generate $40-$55 million in additional wealth, and 300-400 jobs,” John says. “What is increasingly apparent is that much of the region’s goal of a $250-million-a-year aquaculture industry will be realised in the Eastern Bay once the Ōpōtiki harbour is in place. The additional wealth will come from more high-value species and extractives and opening up of further water space. Aquaculture is a job-rich and high–value-per-employee industry.” 

The forum was told that improving education attainment, participation and alignment within the region’s current and future labour market will be essential to realising the opportunities. Toi-EDA’s workforce project, with cornerstone funding from BayTrust, maximises full-time job opportunities for locals in the seasonal kiwifruit and new aquaculture industries, and ensures the local provision of necessary training.

The regional growth study also highlights the potential to unlock significant areas of Maori land for horticulture in conjunction with irrigation developments. The major part of this is in conversion of maize-cropped land to kiwifruit and the forum considered proposed developments in the Omaio and Te Kaha areas. Two blocks are already in development.

Last week’s forum followed five Bay of Connections workshops across the region that asked stakeholders to prioritise the opportunities in the growth study. Draft action plans considered at the forum will now be sent to the Ministries of Business, Innovation and Employment and Primary Industries.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council General Manager Strategy and Bay of Connections management group chair Fiona McTavish says the region’s five economic development agencies have been key supporters of the growth study over the past year. “EDAs have been instrumental in the development of the RGS action plans, with Toi-EDA strongly representing Eastern Bay opportunities throughout the process. Each sub-region is intrinsically linked to another, meaning that what happens in the Eastern Bay has an impact other parts of the region, and vice versa. Therefore, the success of these action plans will depend on the wider region continuing to work collaboratively throughout implementation and beyond.”