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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Economic Development: Upper Hutt struggling economically

UFB rollout in central Upper Hutt- dark blue is active now,
light blue is due by 2016. Map from Chorus.
A report out today shows Upper Hutt is struggling economically, despite New Zealand's economy being one of the strongest performers in the OECD. Meanwhile, just over the hill South Wairarapa is booming. The report underlines the importance of sound economic development to attract jobs and investment.

Fortunately the report, or its aftermath, isn't all doom and gloom. Mayor Wayne Guppy has pointed out that a lot has changed since the report (written for the year to March 2013). The Upper Hutt City Council has done some great leg work in putting in place incentives for business (such as rates remission) to come to Upper Hutt and invest.

Central government has a role to play as well. National's Business Growth Agenda, which covers a wide range of topics, has a particular focus on infrastructure. I've been pointing out, for example, that critical infrastructure such as SH58 (the Hayward's Hill Road) needs to be upgraded. It's the upper Hutt Valley's link to Transmission Gully. Other infrastructure, such as ultra-fast broadband, is being rolled out in Upper Hutt (map above) as a result of the government's investment in UFB. There is also some great investment coming through into the region's public transport network (thanks to the Greater Wellington Regional Council).

Then there's training and skills development. Since the Central Institute of Technology was merged with Hutt Valley Polytech to create WelTech in 2001, Upper Hutt's been without a tertiary institute. There was an attempt to make use of the old campus as the "New Zealand International Campus", but this appears to have fallen through. Tertiary training is a critical part of the link in the economic development chain that needs to be addressed.