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"The signs are good for Dunedin.''
Dunedin had to be a "cool city'' and its liveability was "crucial''.
The University of Otago medical graduate and former Rhodes Scholar was speaking yesterday in a wide-ranging address on the future of regional cities, at a luncheon marking the SBS Bank's 150th anniversary.
The university and the bank are both celebrating their respective 150th anniversaries this year. Bank chairman John Ward is an Otago graduate and former Otago chancellor.
Addressing more than 80 people, including Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne, at The Savoy, Mr Kirk praised the university and the bank: one for providing the ``ground'' where a great deal of intellectual capital had long been developed, the other for helping generations of people to own their own houses and develop businesses.
He defined "regional'' trading cities as cities throughout the world which were not capitals or national financial centres.
Many regional cities had flourished over the years, but sometimes their fortunes later waned because earlier key resources, such as gold in Otago, diminished.
Despite earlier economic challenges for Dunedin, the growing importance of information technology was positive and the city could benefit from the "the good news the 21st century is serving up''.
One key to the future was creating IT-related products, which involved intellectual property, and had a high profit margin.
Such products were easy to transport internationally and to gain payments, at the click of a computer keyboard.
Dunedin's population had risen to about 130,000 and many of the newcomers were relatively young, auguring well for the future, he said.
Mr Kirk is chairman of Trade Me and Kathmandu Holdings Ltd.
Mr Ward said earlier that Mr Kirk also chaired the board of KiwiHarvest - an organisation which rescued perishable food and supplied it to those in need - and was also supported by SBS.