The Waikato Mayoral Forum has work underway to identify more than $10 million of “shovel-ready” projects to stimulate the Waikato economy.
Forum chair, Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson, said the projects sought should be ready to go within six months of the lockdown end in order to contribute to a substantial stimulus of the local economy and create jobs.
The Waikato mayors, council chief executives, MPs, iwi leaders and other regional powerbrokers of the mayoral forum met today via teleconference in the first of a series of planned weekly meeting.
They discussed the impacts of Covid-19 and how Waikato’s politicians and their agencies could work with Central Government to kick start our economic recovery after the lockdown.
Chair of the Waikato Mayoral Forum, Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson, said today’s meeting was about “getting on the same page and comparing notes in terms of how the region is responding to the Covid crisis, being connected to make sure we are aligned and ensuring we have one voice when speaking to Central Government.
“After looking after the well-being of our people, and fulfilling our crucial civil defence duties, our attention turns to coordinating which major projects we can hit go on to get our economy back on track. This is what private sector is looking for, too. They want to see our pipeline of projects, so they can get prepared and buy the necessary equipment,” he said.
Deputy Mayoral Forum Chair, Hauraki Mayor Toby Adams, acknowledged that with the halt on tourism, and the lockdown affecting so many workers and companies, the region will undoubtedly feel pain. However, he praised the government’s wage subsidy scheme: “the scheme has been fantastic and it’s been fast. It has given people confidence, which is what we need more of right now.”
Local Government Minister and Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta, echoing Mayor Adams, said that Government had been agile and was looking after people by minimizing the economic impact of Covid-19.
“We are providing practical support to those who need it,” she said. She looked forward to continuing to work closely with Waikato local government leaders and iwi as we get through this crisis.
Michael Bassett-Foss, who heads up Te Waka, the region’s economic development agency, said they “had paused all non-critical items and were focusing on bringing different agencies together to share learning, which in this ever-changing environment was happening rapidly.” He said that facilitating a coordinated Waikato response was absolutely critical.
The Mayoral Forum discussions, which will take place every Monday afternoon during the lockdown period, are intended to provide a framework for forming a united and cohesive ‘Waikato’ approach, which will be crucial in leveraging Central Government support for initiatives on behalf of the region.
Mayoral Forum members work towards having clear priorities that all councils agree on and that are also supported by local MPs, iwi, and other key delivery partners.