SUOUTHLAND Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) chairman Tom Campbell and other members of the governance group are stepping down as the next stage of the strategy gets under way.
The group is expected to disband at the end of the month.
“It is appropriate because the SoRDS governance group was set up to lead the development of the strategy, [which has now been achieved],” Mr Campbell said.
The governance group was now facilitating the transition to a new governance group consisting of SoRDS programme director Sarah Hannan and programme director Sarah Brown and the shared services chief executives from the region’s three councils and Environment Southland, he said.
“It needs a fresh approach, fresh faces and new energy to drive this and people prepared to commit to it. I am 67 years old. I don’t want to make that commitment.”
A new entity was also being set up to oversee, drive and implement the strategy, the Southland Regional Development Agency, which would absorb Venture Southland (VS).
The agency would be a council-controlled organisation, but would have more independence than VS, which was defined as a council sub-committee, Mr Campbell said. It would also have a broader mandate than VS, focused on implementing the strategy.
we have arrived at is the right one,” he said.
“I think it is do-able to achieve the objective to grow the population by 10,000 by 2025. The targets are probably too low.”
Southland’s economy was strong at present with low unemployment levels and an increasing gross domestic product, but, in about five to 10 years the baby boomers retired, there would be a shortage of workers to fill jobs, he said.
“We will probably start seeing this in 2020 if we cannot attract more people to live in the region.”
Although it was not obvious to the community, a lot of work to implement the strategy had been achieved already and by next year people would start seeing tangible outcomes, he said.
“2017 was always going to be the iceberg stage where everything is happening below the waterline, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.”
Some of the projects under way included developing concept plans for the Bluff Oyster World attraction, a feasibility study around progressing aquaculture in the region and an international student internship to facilitate relationships with the Southland business community.
Mr Campbell said the highlight of his time as governance group chairman was the strategy’s launch day, which had attracted an audience of 500, most of whom were in support of it.
“It is not often you get so many people supportive at the same time. That is what I am most proud of. Southland was probably as united as it has ever been.”
After the governance group disbanded, Mr Campbell said he would continue as a director on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Electricity Invercargill Ltd and several other boards.