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Wellington City mayoral candidate Jack Yan has released his ten-point plan to get Wellington’s economy moving in the right direction. Mr Yan says he’s adopted the ten-point plan to clearly communicate his intentions if elected.
Mr Yan argues that Wellington should be the home of intellectual capital in New Zealand, and the source of world-class thinking, products and services.
The ten points are as follows.
Wellington as a global hub for innovation
Based on his experience in his own career in international business, innovation can help diversify the city’s economy and, in some cases, create frictionless exports and high-value jobs. Mr Yan says he does not want to see the capital part of a “race to the bottom” with low-wage jobs where Wellingtonians could see their roles easily taken over by cheap, third-world nations.
Identifying our next export champions and high-growth firms, and supporting them
Mr Yan says it is possible to use rigorous criteria to identify the next high-growth firms and promote them at an international level. He is prepared to work with Grow Wellington and Tourism Wellington on a concerted campaign. He also notes that his global connections and his multilingualism as being up to the task of promoting Wellington internationally.
International links to Wellington
‘Wellington can put forward a very compelling case as a hub for the country, and we can work with existing airlines to ensure that it’s going to be a win for them, too,’ says Mr Yan. Coupled with his second point above, he believes he can open doors for airlines in new markets, and can call on his experience in Asia and Europe. ‘I am heartened to note that this policy has been taken up by the city officially, but it’s going to take the right person to drive it, preferably someone who has the right experience in building bridges between cultures,’ he says.
Connecting our business leaders internationally
Mr Yan’s belief that cities are the drivers of globalization as much as nations means that he is prepared to network Wellington businesses with others abroad, either to help them expand, or to see them create new innovations through collaboration. He has worked in that very space himself, and has mentored local businesses since 2006.
A tech precinct
Not everything can be done in a virtual vacuum. As in 2010, Mr Yan believes in creative clusters, and says that a technological precinct from upper Cuba Street down to Cambridge Terrace would be an ideal spot. It would also help focus research and development for Wellington to create more intellectual capital along with world-class products and services. His earlier proposal for an inner-city park ties in with the precinct as place-branding experts that he has worked with believe that there must be a proper work–life balance in modern cities.
Critical mass for research and development
Mr Yan believes Wellington needs to promote stronger links with Victoria University for a start, and ensure there is a critical mass for research and development in the city. He already has fostered connections with Massey University and Whitireia Polytechnic, and is prepared to build on them further to ensure economic diversity and world-class thinking.
Wellington’s culture already invites collaboration. When introducing Promoki at Lightning Lab’s Demo Day in May, Mr Yan noted that there was an international mixture of entrepreneurs in the city. Promoting a sense of a global community through programmes that encourage collaboration among businesses will ensure that Wellingtonians create globally minded, properly differentiated and competitive products and services.
Improving our technological infrastructure
If Wellington is to invest in infrastructure, there must be a proper return on investment. While Mr Yan does not believe the city should be focused on a single sector, he says that the technological infrastructurehe campaigned successfully for free wifi in 2010can be enhanced. ‘Extending the free wifi service, opening up public data, and making greater investment in the tech infrastructure would signal to international firms that Wellington is open for business and attract inward investment. It would further allow local firms to innovate and potentially create technologically savvy new products,’ he says. Mr Yan says the earlier kickstart on the tech sector in the 1990s under Mayor Mark Blumsky already netted innovators such as Xero and Silverstripe. The Rosebuddy recommendation engine is a newer Wellington innovation which has a huge potential to grow in the 2010s.
A regional view of Wellington
Mr Yan is in favour of regional reform but while Wellington remains separate, he says he already has a good relationship with Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace and looks forward to connecting to the region’s other mayors if elected. His history of collaboration and an ability to work toward a long-term vision equips him to work with others on creating a vibrant, strong region. He regrets that the Wairarapa has decided to go it alone, but believes that there is potential to work closely with the district when it comes to primary products.
Getting investment for Wellington
Mr Yan says the right investment needs to come in to the city for sustainable, long-term jobs, and that the city ‘cannot be reliant on a cap-in-hand attitude with central government.’ He believes central government will only be attracted to Wellington if the earlier points can be achieved compellingly, and that he has the experience to secure further investment at an international level.
With more contenders in the mayoral race, Jack Yan remains the only candidate who has published a manifesto. The 10 points were first detailed in his manifesto in April, when Mr Yan declared his intention to challenge incumbent Celia Wade-Brown for the mayoralty. Since then, he has noticed one idea already taken up in part – his plan to extend Wellington Airport’s runway and to ensure an airline comes to the region to use it as a hub – while the remaining nine continue his themes of innovation and economic development.