LGNZ welcomes The New Zealand Initiative’s new report on the use of Special Economic Zones

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) welcomes The New Zealand Initiative’s new report, In the Zone: Creating a Toolbox for Regional Prosperity which recommends the use of Special Economic Zones as a way to test new regionally tailored policies and encourage regional economic development.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says we need to put ourselves and our communities in the best possible position to manage significant issues such as regional economic development, demographic shifts, climate change and rapid technological advancement and we need a range of tools to do so.

“This innovative report is about leading a principled discussion with our key partners around more fit-for-purpose funding options. It outlines the way forward for regions to address location-specific policies and regulations and provides the right tools and incentives to meet environmental and economic goals and minimise barriers to growth,” says Mr Yule.

The New Zealand Initiative’s report reinforces the first of ten key proposals in LGNZ’s Local Government Funding Review 10-point plan which recommends a flexible regime to allow innovative ideas and approaches to be trialled in some areas to allow a policy to be tested in a location or region.

“Incentives such as a share in value uplift arising from additional economic activity can improve outcomes for local communities. We see a strong opportunity to test these ideas through Special Economic Zones,” says Mr Yule.

LGNZ is pleased to see that central government is also considering the use of incentives and other diverse funding tools to address challenges in housing and other areas.

The New Zealand Initiative’s report also calls for a more collaborative approach to policymaking between local and central government, in which local government could request regional variations on national level regulations to suit local needs.

“Providing an environment that supports local government’s ability to partner with others to efficiently achieve shared goals, and the incentives for all parties to encourage local economic growth, are vital parts of the conversation,” says Mr Yule.

LGNZ’s Local Government Funding Review 10-point plan: incentivising economic growth and strong local communities is available here.