Focus on Regions welcome

28 Jul 2015

The Government’s announcement on Sunday of extra incentives for migrants to settle outside Auckland will be a welcome boost to local economies, according to leading New Zealand software accounting firm MYOB.

MYOB New Zealand Sales Manager Scott Gardiner says that although nearly half of our population is based in the three main centres, our regions are vitally important to our whole economy. In particular, our two major industries, tourism and agriculture, depend on what regional New Zealand has to offer to the world.

“If over the last three years, New Zealand has enjoyed a rock star economy, the regions have been relegated to the support act,” says Scott Gardiner.

“So a renewed focus on growing local economies – encouraging both investment and population growth – will be welcomed in the communities outside Auckland.”

Data from MYOB’s Business Monitor, a twice-yearly nationwide survey by Colmar Brunton of more than 1000 SME operators, includes over 450 businesses outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

On average, since the beginning of 2013, revenue growth in these regional businesses has lagged around 4.5 percentage points behind businesses in Auckland, where the majority of new migrants are settling.

“Attracting new skills, targeting more entrepreneurs to invest in business development and boosting the populations of these communities should make a difference to economic growth in the regions,” says Scott Gardiner.

“However, the Government’s migration strategy is only part of the picture. MYOB’s research in the regions has also highlighted how important it is to improve local infrastructure – and in particular access to faster internet in rural areas.”

According to the latest MYOB Business Monitor, 35 per cent of rural business operators are dissatisfied with their internet access, compared to 20 per cent of all local SMEs.

“Supporting growth in the regions has to be a key focus for our economic development agenda, in order to maintain the health and diversity of the whole country.”

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