Brekonomics discussion identifies areas of opportunity for Taranaki despite ongoing uncertainty

After a challenging 2020 and recent alert level changes, Venture Taranaki kick-started 2021 with Brekonomics, where industry experts Brad Olsen, Senior Economist from Infometrics, and Justine Gilliland, Chief Executive of Venture Taranaki, provided insights into Taranaki’s forecasted economic performance and areas of opportunity for the future.

With more than 130 attendees, Brad and Justine addressed questions provided from the audience during ticket registrations, and were joined by other industry experts for a Q&A panel.  

They also discussed the effects of COVID-19, lockdown and the ongoing pandemic on Taranaki’s economy.

“During lockdown, business confidence was low, with 50% of enterprises we contacted indicating they expected economic conditions to deteriorate as the year progressed,” Justine stated.

“Venture Taranaki’s post-lockdown regional response was immediate. Funding was made available to affected enterprises, tripling the amount of client engagements our Enterprise Team would normally manage. We quickly rolled out our Go Local campaign encouraging the community to support local businesses,” says Justine.

Key sectors were also in focus during Brad and Justine’s discussion. Tourism was a hot topic, with recent data indicating that Taranaki has benefited from a stronger than expected domestic tourism season.

“Taranaki’s visitor sector has performed well, as shown by recent data. There is a buzz around the region, with plenty of spring and summer events to attract out-of-region visitors,” explained Justine.

“But we do have to be realistic here. The recent alert level changes are a reminder that we’re still dealing with uncertainty,” stated Justine.

Another key topic was job prospects in Taranaki and the sectors experiencing the most severe skills shortages.

“In Taranaki, there has been an increase in unemployment during and post-lockdown, but nowhere near what was forecast. We’re also seeing a spike in new jobs being advertised in the region,” Justine noted.

“Taranaki already had a construction sector skills shortage prior to COVID-19, and with the Government’s ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus, the surge in residential property demand, and already planned projects such as the hospital rebuild, this shortage has only been exacerbated,” Justine continued.

“We see the proposed redevelopment of WITT as being a vital opportunity for addressing our skill shortages and our NEET rate, as well as ensuring people around Taranaki have equal opportunities and access to further education and training. This includes youth, Māori, and women – who have been harder hit by the downturn.”

Since lockdown, Venture Taranaki has been developing a return to better tactical plan, focusing on the key areas of opportunity in the short-term for our region’s recovery. The plan ingrates Tapuae Roa and Taranaki 2050 actions and is guided by the need to support the sectors and communities most impacted by COVID-19.

“Our region has a solid plan for our return to better. We need to be OK with uncertainty, taking risks, and taking action. To be successful, we have to start thinking now about the possibilities and opportunities across all sectors that will sustain and improve the thriving Taranaki we have today,” concluded Justine.

A percentage of ticket proceeds from Brekonomics will be donated to Yellow Brick Road New Plymouth.

See the 'return to better' tactical plan.