Connecting communities will drive growth, employment and wellbeing

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The Government’s new appetite for investing in infrastructure, along with encouragement for bold thinking on productivity, connectivity and sustainability, presents the Waikato with a unique window of opportunity. 

As the Government looks to kickstart the economy by fast-tracking ‘shovel ready’ projects, Te Waka is pushing for investment in seven key infrastructure projects across the Waikato region.

There is no denying the impact of Covid-19 is severe. Economic activity has stalled. There is strong debate about the sustainability of businesses and sectors. And there are growing concerns about the well-being of people and communities as unemployment rises.

But despite this, the crisis also has the potential to unleash a wave of innovation, new-thinking and disruptive business models. The Waikato region has the industries and talent to embrace this change and to lead economic recovery by creating employment and growth. We need to create stronger connections between our communities and complete key infrastructure projects to make this happen.

Te Waka has identified those for which we are seeking Government funding:
1. Finish the Waikato Expressway by completing the Piarere Extension
2. Accelerate the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor project
3. Enable rapid rail – Hamilton to Auckland
4. Complete the Southern Links project
5. Invest in improvements to State Highway 2 to open up the Coromandel
6. Enable a regional logistics strategy via connecting the Ruakura Inland Port
7. Investing in technology and business infrastructure.

You can find more detail on our website www.tewaka.nz about each of these projects and why, more than ever, they warrant an injection of capital. 

While completing these big ticket projects is critical, we also need to support projects from around the region that will have a meaningful impact on local communities, and we will work with local stakeholders to do that.

The Waikato region encompasses some of the most productive parts of New Zealand, with key industries that are world-class. We also have a history of innovation, a quality and growing skills base and world-class educational facilities.

Despite this strong foundation, our region is not well-connected to the population centres of Auckland and Tauranga, nor is it well connected internally.

These connections are critical if we want to create growth, employment, community prosperity and wellbeing, and to leverage our natural strengths as a region. The new normal will look quite different, and now is the time for us to come together as a connected region. We must leverage a unified vision which underpins a healthy and thriving future for Waikato communities.

Te Waka believes the road to recovery must start by connecting major employment and population centres. This includes central business districts, growing metropolitan and employment areas, rural and coastal towns and adjacent regions. It is only by making these connections that we can successfully drive economic growth, resilient communities, employment and well-being.

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Michael Bassett-Foss