After a challenging 2020 and recent alert level changes, Venture Taranaki will kick-start 2021 with Brekonomics, where industry experts Brad Olsen, senior economist from Infometrics, and Justine Gilliland, chief executive of Venture Taranaki, will provide insights into Taranaki’s forecasted economic performance and areas of opportunity for the future.
With more than 130 attendees expected, Brad and Justine will address questions provided from the audience during ticket registrations, and will be joined by other industry experts for a Q&A panel.
They will also be discussing the effects of COVID-19, lockdown and the ongoing pandemic on Taranaki’s economy.
"During lockdown, business confidence was low, with 50 per cent of enterprises we contacted indicating they expected economic conditions to deteriorate as the year progressed," Justine states.
"Venture Taranaki’s post-lockdown regional response was immediate. Funding was made available to affected enterprises, tripling the amount of client engagements our Enterprise team would normally manage. We quickly rolled out our Go Local campaign encouraging the community to support local businesses," Justine says.
It is also expected that key sectors will be in focus during Brad and Justine’s discussion. Tourism will be a hot topic, as recent data indicates that Taranaki has benefited from a stronger than expected domestic tourism season.
"Taranaki’s visitor sector has performed well, as shown by recent data. There is a buzz around the region, with plenty of spring and summer events to attract out-of-region visitors," explains Justine.
"But we do have to be realistic here. The recent alert level changes are a reminder that we’re still dealing with uncertainty," says Justine.
Another key topic potentially on the cards for Brad and Justine’s discussion is job prospects in Taranaki and the sectors experiencing the most severe skills shortages.
"In Taranaki, there has been an increase in unemployment during and post-lockdown, but nowhere near what was forecast. We’re also seeing a spike in new jobs being advertised in the region," Justine says.
"Taranaki already had a construction sector skills shortage prior to COVID-19, and with the Government’s ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus, the surge in residential property demand, and already planned projects such as the hospital rebuild, this shortage has only been exacerbated.
"We see the proposed redevelopment of WITT as being a vital opportunity for addressing our skill shortages and our NEET rate, as well as ensuring people around Taranaki have equal opportunities and access to further education and training. This includes youth, MƒÅori, and women – who have been harder hit by the downturn."
Since lockdown, Venture Taranaki has been developing a return to better tactical plan, focusing on the key areas of opportunity in the short-term for our region’s recovery. The plan ingrates Tapuae Roa and Taranaki 2050 actions and is guided by the need to support the sectors and communities most impacted by COVID-19.
"Our region has a solid plan for our return to better. We need to be OK with uncertainty, taking risks, and taking action. To be successful, we have to start thinking now about the possibilities and opportunities across all sectors that will sustain and improve the thriving Taranaki we have today," concludes Justine.
A percentage of ticket proceeds from Brekonomics will be donated to Yellow Brick Road New Plymouth.