Can tourism replace dairy?
Tourism and the development of an industrial precinct stand as two economic drivers which could help provide new jobs and growth in Matamata.
It’s part of a plan MatamataPiako District Council, led by mayor Jan Barnes, is keen to pursue and it remains eager to discuss options to bring development which increases employment and economic growth.
Regionally the Matamata- Piako remains a significant producer contributing 0.8 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product mainly through dairy and meat production.
But Barnes is aware the district’s population is growing and with it the need to look for economic drivers other than the primary industry to provide jobs for her people.
It comes as the council’s economic development working party identified the vulnerability of the dairy industry.
Council wanted to ensure stability for future investment, provide certainty and clarity for decision making, remain proactive and ready to respond to investment opportunities.
‘‘There are a dozen objectives underway and when the new council is brought up to speed, we will look to progress those economic development initiatives,’’ said Barnes.
Those initiatives include tourism, industrial land availability and infrastructural and com- munication needs. The rail trail extension from Te Aroha to Matamata, eventually linking the Te Awa Trail to Hamilton, could be a bonus.
Remaining essential is the support of the three major towns’ (Morrinsville, Te Aroha and Matamata) museums and the Wallace Art Gallery, coupled with financial support for regional promotion through Tourism Waikato and the i-SITE network.
In order to attract industry creating employment, a review of the council’s development strategy for its three towns is underway and a proposed extension to land zoned industrial is open for public comment.
Development and extension of infrastructure is part of a study to determine whether Waharoa could become an industrial centre. Barnes said it could involve similar work on past projects, where the council worked with business to develop water and wastewater schemes for Morrinsville and Te Aroha.