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Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today announced government support for a new regional growth plan to bolster the Southland economy.

The Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan was developed by the Southland Regional Development Strategy Governance Group and is supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, which aims to increase jobs, incomes and investment in regional New Zealand.

“Southland has a relatively small economy which relies on a limited number of industries. While the regional population is growing, for the past ten years population growth has been significantly slower than in the rest of the country,” Mr Joyce says.

“Southland has laid out a clear and coherent plan to diversify the regional economy, grow the population by 10,000 people by 2025, and strengthen local business.

“To help achieve these goals, the region has identified opportunities to grow sectors like tourism and international education. These will be underpinned by work to train or attract more skilled workers and improve water management, digital connectivity and transport infrastructure.”

Mr Guy says though Southland is currently heavily dependent on dairy, sheep and beef farming, key focus areas for the future include aquaculture and other primary industries.

“Aquaculture is already an important contributor to the Southland economy and the region has strong aspirations to see that contribution grow sustainably and create more jobs and high-value products,” Mr Guys says.

“Agriculture is also a well-established industry in the region, but a stronger local economy can be created by promoting greater land use diversification – increasing sheep milk and dairy beef production, for example.

“Improvements in sustainable on-farm performance have the potential to produce significant gains. Initiatives in the plan to this effect include the Southern Dairy Hub, sheep and beef productivity improvements and a collaborative and multi-faceted approach to water management.”

Local and central government, businesses and iwi worked together to develop the plan, which was informed by the Southland Regional Development Strategy, published by the Southland Mayoral Forum in 2015. Implementation of the plan will be led by the Southland Regional Development Strategy Governance Group, with individual actions coordinated and led by different groups and agencies as appropriate.

More information on the Southland Regional Action Plan and the Regional Growth Programme can be found here: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/regions-cities/...

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