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Teamwork 'crucial to economy'

NEW ZEALAND - A draft Nelson-Tasman Regional Economic Development Strategy, released on Thursday as an economic blueprint for the region for the next 10 to 20 years, highlights a list of recommendations for public feedback.

Economic Development Agency chief executive Bill Findlater says the report notes that traditional key economic drivers, such as forestry, fishing and horticulture would remain important industries, but aquaculture was a shining light.

"Aquaculture is one big one that stands out for the top of the south region. We're starting to get the infrastructure in the ground for the fibre optic network that will support advances in the information technology industry. The region is starting to be self-sufficient," Mr Findlater said.

The EDA was set up in 2003 by the Nelson City Council after the Tasman District Council withdrew its support at the last minute, leaving Nelson city to go it alone in attracting government funds for regional development.

However, the district council had contributed to the cost of the $100,000 report, prepared by Ruby Bay-based economic consultants John Cook and Associates. Mr Findlater said the city council also helped fund the report, but the bulk of funding came from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise through its regional partnership programme.

Public feedback on the draft recommendations would be invited up to November 21, after which the report would become final. It was also expected to be adopted by the two councils through their long-term council community plans, said Mr Findlater.

"We want people to give feedback to this. We've put this document out in the firm belief it's the region's document, not the EDA's document," he said.

Nelson's economy is expected to grow 35 percent in the next decade, based on the strong economic growth anticipated in Asia, India and China.

Traditional sectors like pipfruit, kiwifruit, forestry and fishing are expected to have output growth of between 10 and 20 percent. Higher-performing sectors like viticulture, berryfruit, tourism and engineering are expected to have output growth of 20 to 50 percent.

Aquaculture is predicted to have output growth of more than 50 percent over the next decade.

The report shows the current five key economic drivers of horticulture, forestry, seafood, tourism and pastoral make up 31 percent of the region's gross domestic product. The total value-added GDP for the region in 2006 is estimated at $3.2 billion.

Source: Nelson Mail

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