Marlborough Express - Marlborough going from strength to strength

Columns
Monday, May 9, 2016

As we head into winter following another busy and successful harvest, a reflection on the state of Marlborough's economy shows it is looking very healthy indeed.

The latest regional GDP figures show Marlborough is performing extremely well, increasing to $2.5 billion in the year ending March 2015 – an increase of 2.2 per cent on the previous year and moving up in the ranks to New Zealand's fifth highest GDP per capita.

Business confidence is high and our key industries are flourishing.

From March 2010 to March 2015, Marlborough's economy increased by an impressive 28 per cent, growth which was primarily driven by manufacturing and agriculture. This was the third highest increased in the country behind Canterbury and Auckland.

Marlborough's employment was up 1.8 per cent last year, and up 3 per cent in 2014.

Our economy is humming, no doubt about it, but the flip side of all this is that we are facing a number of growth-related issues and in this area, there is work to be done.

Some of these issues have been highlighted in the media of late, such as the shortage of available rental properties. 

This is a challenge that will need to be addressed as more workers are drawn to our region, in particular for the wine industry.

With plans to plant 6800 new hectares of grapes in Marlborough over the next five years, the viticulture labour market predicts its total worker numbers will increase from almost 8500 to more than 10,000 by 2019-20 - an increase of 24 per cent.

These workers will require adequate levels of pastoral care, 189 houses for permanent workers, 442 beds for casual workers and 600 beds for RSE workers.

Evidence of Marlborough's continuing growth can also be seen in our schools, a number of which are at capacity. Witherlea School is one school that is currently grappling with this issue, as more people move into the newly constructed Taylor Pass subdivision.

The construction industry, too, is a great indicator of Marlborough's continuing growth.

I recently visited a building site to see first-hand how the industry is adapting to the new health and safety legislation. 

Talking to workers on-site, I was left in no doubt that our construction industry is absolutely flat-out with activity, and developers report they are fielding lots of inquiries, including from Christchurch and Auckland.

These are exciting times for Marlborough.

While there are certainly a number of challenges to overcome, these are issues of growth. What this means for Marlborough people in the long run are more and higher-value jobs, higher wages and new career pathways for our young people, plus increased investment and innovation.

As our economy goes from strength to strength, I will continue to work hard to support businesses and our community as we build on this robust progress.

I am so fortunate to represent such a hard-working electorate.