Brad Olsen, Senior Economist at Infometrics, says Whanganui is going to feel the effects of a global recession, but is positioned to weather the storm better than many other regions.
Olsen presented his thoughts during a webinar on the outlook for the local economy. The webinar was organised by Whanganui & Partners to help the economic development agency and key partners better understand the context for Whanganui’s economic recovery.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst economic hit we’ve seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” Olsen said. “The Global Financial Crisis really has nothing on it.”
All regions of the country will not be impacted equally however, and Olsen sees more resilience in regional centres like Whanganui.
“If we look at the Whanganui area more broadly, Whanganui doesn’t have that same level of tourism exposure to start with, and local tourism is much more focused on domestic tourism, which has a better ability to bounce back faster. At the same time,the primary sector provides strength to the local area,” Olsen said.
Olsen also noted that the largest sector of the local workforce is in healthcare and social assistance, which he expects to remain relatively stable.
He pointed to education and training provision as another strength for the region.
“One of the areas Whanganui is very well-positioned for is the education and training element. As we come through these relatively rapid economic shifts, we’re going to see a lot more people out of work. There’s going to be a real focus in turning to the need for more education to help people get back into employment over time.”
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be a tough ride for a number of businesses, but in my mind, Whanganui should be able to weather the storm better than other areas,” he said.
Whanganui & Partners’ Chief Executive, Mark Ward, said the presentation identified a number of opportunities for the economic development agency.
“Infometrics’ modelling shows 78% of our workforce are able to operate under Level 3 restrictions, compared to a national average of 74%. This allows us to get more of our economy moving sooner than most other regions. Making the most of advantages like this will help Whanganui to stand out as a visitor, lifestyle and business destination once the public health crisis subsides.”
Ward says that to maximise this potential, Whanganui & Partners has focused its programmes on promoting economic recovery, including increasing delivery of its business support services.
“If any businesses are struggling at the moment, please get in touch,” Ward said. “Our team is here to help.”
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