Regional Growth Program -"Let's Get Northland Working"


This is a collaborative project to attract new and grow exisiting business enterprise in Northland. This intention is to grow our GDP by $1 billion dollars over the next 15 years.


Brief Background

Northland has a population of approximately 158,000 spread through urban and rural communities on a land area of 13,800sq km. The people are distributed across a topography offering challenges of access, isolation, and communication. Northland has one city, a number of rural towns, numerous townships and hamlets and areas of coastal settlement with minimal services.

Of Northland’s approximately 12,000 businesses, the majority are small (less than five employees), part time (e.g. Bed & Breakfasts in the tourism sector), or “lifestyle (and hence growth resistant) businesses employing slightly over 64,000 people.

As a consequence, the potential for significantly impacting Northland’s prosperity, currently sits with a very limited population of competent, profitable, growth capable businesses. The following define some key characteristics of the Northland business profile:

  • Currently only a small number of “corporates” are operating in Northland. In addition, there are twenty to thirty significant businesses (excluding pastoral businesses). However, there are very few growth-ready SMEs with product, distribution and competent growth management in place

  • Investment in value adding technologies has been limited and is critical to raise the quality and productivity of employment in Northland

  • Northland’s prosperity is currently tied to tourism, pastoral farming, forestry, and, building and property development. There is an absolute need to broaden the base of industry.

  • Economic development activity to date has focused on local capacity building. This alone will not achieve transformational growth in Northland, due to the low starting base. Transformational change will require significant large scale investment.

  • Gaps in Northland’s human capital and a rapidly aging skills pool threaten to impede growth.

Do Nothing Option
In a 'do nothing' scenario the Northland economy is expected to grow by 1.2%pa over the period 2008 to 2030 which is essentially the same as the 1.2%pa expectation for the national economy growth rate. These projected growth rates are considerably lower than the experience in the ten years to March 2008, when New Zealand annual growth averaged 3.3%pa and Northland growth averaged 3.0%pa. Slower growth in the employment base, as baby boomers drift into retirement, is the prime force behind the slower outlook for economic growth. The benchmark projections would see economic production in Northland roughly one third greater in 2030 than today.


Accelerated Growth Program
There is a need to successfully implement an accelerated growth program to lift growth to 3.1%pa. Such a result would mean that the Northland economy would be 94% bigger in 2030 than today, have a greater workforce.

Realistically, Northland needs interventions to hold its current comparative position. To improve its social and economic well being in a substantive way requires new ideas, collaborative actions and a “Northland” approach. 
Northland’s planning must focus on encouraging and creating that growth, both by better harnessing local opportunity and capability, and by inviting new investment into our regional economy. This is the proposed "Lets Get Northland Working" Strategy.


The objective is to grow the economic base by an extra 2000 added value jobs which through the effect of the economic multiplier will grow the regional GDP by approximately $1.1 billion and provide an addition 3,400 new jobs in the servicing sectors.