We can be na­tion’s smartest city

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - GRANT SMITH, PALMER­STON NORTH MAYOR

Back for my se­cond term as mayor I’m feel­ing very am­bi­tious for Palmer­ston North. We’re young, well-ed­u­cated and in­no­va­tive, and I be­lieve we can be the coun­try’s smartest city.

Be­ing smart is about much more than ed­u­ca­tion lev­els and aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

It’s about recog­nis­ing and cap­i­tal­is­ing on our strengths. It’s about know­ing where to put our en­ergy and re­sources. And it’s about get­ting the best out­comes for every­body.

Palmer­ston North can thrive as a strate­gic re­gional hub.

We’re lo­cated in the mid­dle of a mil­lion peo­ple and serve as the cap­i­tal for 230,000 peo­ple liv­ing within a 45-minute drive. We’re close to cen­tral gov­ern­ment, eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by road, rail and air, and have a 24/7 air­port – one of only three in the coun­try.

This makes us well placed to at­tract and re­tain business, ex­pand our key in­dus­tries, and grow our al­ready buoy­ant job mar­ket.

We’re well on our way to be­com­ing the agri-food cap­i­tal of New Zealand and we’re now a ma­jor freight and lo­gis­tics hub.

As we con­tinue to in­no­vate and grow we’ll have ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to of­fer our grad­u­ates and more jobs for our young peo­ple.

We’re also the per­fect place for smart families to raise their chil­dren. We of­fer a safe and easy life­style, an abun­dance of green spaces, and af­ford­able hous­ing – and it’s so easy to get around.

Our cen­tral city is markedly more vi­brant as we con­tinue to up­grade our CBD, and new ini­tia­tives like the food trucks are cre­at­ing a real buzz.

We’re also se­cur­ing big­ger and bet­ter events like the Hilux Ru­ral Games that are at­tract­ing peo­ple from across the re­gion and even the coun­try.

We have some big projects un­der way that’ll pro­vide real bang for buck for ev­ery res­i­dent. And I have no doubt they’ll make us an even more at­trac­tive place to visit and live.

The He Ara Ko­tahi cy­cle and pedes­trian bridge, sup­ported by sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from cen­tral gov­ern­ment, will be a key route in our ur­ban trans­port net­work. It will con­nect Lin­ton Mil­i­tary Camp, Massey Uni­ver­sity and FoodHQ to the city and is ex­pected to be used by more than 1000 peo­ple a day.

Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Wild­base Re­cov­ery will be the only cen­tre of its kind in the coun­try and an ab­so­lute na­tional trea­sure. Build­ing work will com­mence in Jan­uary thanks to a very im­pres­sive fundrais­ing drive and the gen­er­ous sup­port of the Cen­tral En­ergy Trust.

We re­ally are on the cusp of some ex­cit­ing times. We must be more am­bi­tious than ever and be­come the city we all know we can be.

I’m pas­sion­ate about Palmer­ston North and look for­ward to serv­ing you for an­other three years.

A view of Palmer­ston North’s pro­posed cy­cle and pedes­trian bridge look­ing from the Massey side to­ward the city.

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