Regional Economic Development Not just for Businesses

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Posted by Liz Koh on 26 May 2016

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The following is the official Kapiti Coast Chamber of Commerce’s response to last week’s Kapiti News article ‘Farmers don’t get benefits from rates" on Wednesday 25 May 2016.

Regional Economic Development: Not just for Businesses
26 May 2016, Kapiti Coast – The Kapiti Coast Chamber of Commerce was encouraged by the challenge to respond to last week’s “Farmers don’t get benefits from rates” article.

Economic development is a subject that doesn’t receive the attention or airtime it deserves, and to see engagement and debate on this subject is a positive step forward for our community.

At the heart of the article was the view that farmers and other landowners do not benefit from economic development, and the argument was put forward that these activities should be funded by a rating system targeted at businesses who would directly benefit.

To respond to this appropriately, we need to agree on what Economic Development is in order to see who receives the benefit from it.

What is Economic Development?

Economic development can be defined as efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

According to the World Bank, “Local Economic Development offers local government, the private and not-for-profit sectors, and local communities the opportunity to work together to improve the local economy. It focuses on enhancing competitiveness, increasing sustainable growth and ensuring that growth is inclusive”. Business growth is part of economic development, but so is investment in infrastructure, technology and education, amongst other things.

We can see from this definition that everyone in our community benefits from economic development, including farmers and their families.

What does Economic Development look like in Kapiti?

The aim of the Kapiti District Economic Development Strategy adopted by Council last year, is a “thriving economy, vibrant culture, diverse community”. The specific goals of the strategy are: improved GDP growth, improved household income, a balanced population demographic and business demographic, and more people living and working locally in higher skilled jobs. Economic development has far reaching benefits throughout the community, everybody profits from economic development, not just businesses.

What does the Chamber think about the proposed targeted rates?

In our view, implementing a targeted business rate in Kapiti is not practical. A targeted business rate would be imposed on owners of commercial property, but there are many businesses in Kapiti who operate from home or online who would not be caught by such a rate.

We could also argue that there should be targeted local and regional rates for farmers and landowners to cover all rural costs, such as for rural road maintenance and flood protection. If we are going to adopt a ‘user pays’ approach to Council services, farmers would surely come out worse; so indeed would local residents who use heavily subsidised services such as libraries and swimming pools.

That’s not to say that this was a silly suggestion. As stated, this subject needs further debate and input from all segments of the community to come up with a practical solution.

Where to from here?

Kapiti is poised for growth. We have a highly strategic location which will be further enhanced by the new Expressway and Transmission Gully. Our population is projected to increase markedly over the next twenty years. However, if we are to achieve our full potential, we must work collaboratively.

We need to hear the views and opinions of our community and invite you to share these with our local Economic Development Group chaired by Councillor Gavin Welsh.

You can find out more about Kapiti’s Local Economic Development Strategy online at the Kapiti Coast District Council website, click here.

You can also express your views directly to the Economic Development Group by emailing: gavin.welsh@kapiti.govt.nz

ENDS

Contact Liz Koh, Chair, Kapiti Coast Chamber of Commerce, 021 313 339, chair@kapitichamber.org.nz
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