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It’s good that we are close to, or slightly above national figures. Our challenge will be to try to accelerate that further and catch up on some of those lean years we experienced in between.
Activate CEO Steve Breen

Gisborne economy on right track

14 January 2016, Andrew Ashton, The Gisborne Herald

Rising economic tide has made Gisborne the fourth-fastest growing regional economy.

A $30 million increase in the region’s earnings over a 12-month period is welcomed by the economic development agency as a positive step forward for Gisborne.

A new draft economic report commissioned by Activate Tairawhiti shows that for the year ended March 2015 Gisborne’s regional gross domestic product grew by 2 percent in real terms to $1.510 billion, up from a 1.5 percent rise the previous year.

“By and large it’s a positive reflection on what’s happening in the region,” says Activate Tairawhiti chief executive Steve Breen.

The report also says the ANZ Bank quarterly index of economic activity identified that in the year ended September 2015, Gisborne’s economy grew by 4 percent in nominal terms to $1.668 billion.

That, compared to a national growth rate of 3.2 percent, would make Gisborne New Zealand’s fourth-fastest growing regional economy.

While the report showed the rural production sector continued to be the district’s biggest wealth creator, worth $340 million, the commercial services sector had contributed $240 million over the 2015 year, making it the region’s second most valuable sector, accounting for 14 percent of GDP.

Commercial services sector

Mr Breen said the commercial services sector comprised financial and insurance services, rental/hiring/real estate services, professional/scientific/technical services, and administrative and support services.

“All these industries have simply become more important in most regions over the past decade.”

A number of the business activities in the service sector were linked closely to the rural production sector. That came on the back of “significant” increases in commercial building activity in the region, with a 16.5 percent rise in the value of new commercial/industrial building work.

Mr Breen said total value of all new building work had risen to $36.5m, while the report also said new rural building consents had reached their highest value for six years after a 60 percent rise in value for the year.

“The report also suggests there is an increase in the median selling price for house sales and an increase in employment and median earnings, and our annual growth rate is also up on the previous year. The strongest growth in GDP has been in commercial business services.”

Agriculture, hospitality services, education and training services, and wholesale-retailing services also saw strong growth, the report said.

The report showed that while the value of new dwelling consents had fallen 17.5 percent, house sales had risen 5.8 percent to 526 for the year.

Mr Breen said the 300-person rise in the district’s population, shown in the report, marked a “significant gain” for Gisborne.

“When you look at the long-term stats for our population, we are getting into this baby boom retirement-age bubble and we have seen a net overseas migration into the district of 45 — the first overall net migration gain since 2003.

“We are increasing our population and attracting international migrants into the region, at a time when the country as a whole is starting to go into this phase of baby boomer retirements. So that’s important for us in terms of maintaining our workforce numbers.”

With the region’s unemployment rate at 10 percent at the end of September, there was more emphasis on Activate Tairawhiti’s aim to further workforce development across the region, Mr Breen said.

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