Over coffee yesterday, a wise acquaintance — someone with considerable experience in both the apple and wine industries in Hawke’s Bay and beyond — made the comment: “The apple business is broke and the wine business is bankrupt.”
His chief argument was simply that neither product can possibly be price competitive in world markets in the long run. Our wine already isn’t.
I don’t know whether he’s right or wrong. I plan to get better educated on the subject … and would welcome hearing from any volunteer tutors out there. I have heard others point out that the “death” of one or another NZ farming sector has often been predicted … yet they all seem to bounce back.
What I do know is that the more diversified our regional economy can be, the more economically healthy and secure we will be. And if we are able to diversify in the direction of higher income businesses and occupations, that would be even better.
That’s the subject of my article — It’s All About Incomes — in the latest Baybuzz Digest. There I argue that simply aiming to increase the average length of visitor stays in HB, which has often passed for an “economic development” strategy, simply isn’t good enough. We should be aiming to create the infrastructure and inducements that will attract higher-paying businesses to the Bay, and many of these would likely not be in the farming/agricultural sector.
In his Guest Buzzmaker article — Living Local, Working Global — now-HB resident Rod Drury, twice NZ’s “Entrepreneur of the Year,” makes a similar point. Says Rod:
“Over the last many years, the Bay has focused on being a great destination for tourists. It is. But it’s also a great destination for attracting new talent. Especially those for whom raising their family is important. Our weather, ease of access and great schools are a competitive advantage and already people are working that out.
I believe Broadband is therefore one of the key investment areas for the Bay. As a region, investing in high speed broadband to make it easier for business owners and managers to operate from here can make us the dream place to live and work – anywhere. The easier it is to do desktop video conferencing, online demo’s, have New York phone numbers, and swap large design files with overseas customers, the more living in the Bay can be a real choice for many more people. Those people bring investment and networks to create more job opportunities and increases wages across the region.”
Amen to that. It’s called diversification … and it’s all about incomes.