Wellington City Council can now push ahead with its ambitious plan to expand and diversify the city's economy and create thousands of new jobs, says the Council's Economic Portfolio Leader, Councillor Jo Coughlan.
The Council's Strategy and Policy Committee today agreed to fund major projects in its Economic Development Strategy, which sets a course for Wellington to increase exports by $500 million a year and grow its per capita GDP 10 percent by 2021 (an average annual growth rate of 3.25 percent).
The city's economic blueprint for the next 10 years aims to introduce long-haul flights from Wellington to Asia by 2013, create 10,000 new jobs by 2015, and double the number of new projects involving direct foreign investment from 25 to 50 by 2021.
Cr Coughlan says it is particularly pleasing that Councillors have agreed to invest $200,000 annually to attract long-haul flights to Wellington, and have also included $2.4 million for Australian tourism marketing over the next three years, $1 million next year and $1.9 million in the following years for business investment and attraction as part of the Destination Wellington programme.
"Today's decisions mean we can now get to work on some game changing initiatives to set Wellington on a positive growth path in what is a very challenging economic climate," says Cr Coughlan.
"Long-haul direct flights to Asia, an aggressive marketing campaign to promote Wellington as a destination for business investment, a stronger focus on retaining businesses that are already here, and investing in infrastructure and amenities, are all essential if we are to drive our economy forward.
"Wellington has a key role to play in the growth of the New Zealand economy - we are open for business and must leverage every opportunity to achieve our vision of 10,000 new jobs."
The strategy, which was agreed last December, focuses on four main areas:
Destination Wellington - a programme to attract increased investment, talent and new business to the city.
Smart capital - create a business environment where innovative and knowledge-intensive firms can flourish and access the resources they need to grow and where tertiary and research institutions work closely with the business community.
Connected capital - strengthen international business and trade connections, improve infrastructure to enhance the economy and support good transport options between the suburbs and CBD.
Open for business - foster an efficient and affordable business environment in the city and protect and enhance the central city's role as the economic engine room of the region.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says today's decisions give the economic development strategy the financial backing to respond to global economic challenges, the central government's increased focus on Auckland and Christchurch, and the downsizing of the public sector in the capital.
"This budget includes immediate investment to diversify and set Wellington's economy on a positive path," the Mayor says.
"This will help us attract and retain talent, grow investment and create jobs. Wellington has all the attributes it needs to grow a creative, digital and knowledge-intensive economy - we just need to tell our story to the world."
The Council will make a final decision on funding the projects in the economic development strategy on 27 June, when it adopts the Long-Term Plan.
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