Rejigged Venture Southland sallies forth as Great South

Ian Collier
Ian Collier
Great South - a new name and a new look for what was previously known as Venture Southland.

Yesterday marked the first day of trading for the Southland regional development agency, which announced its new name at an afternoon press conference.

Chairman Ian Collier said it reflected both the history of regional development to date and the goals that had been set for the future.

''Its both who we are and what we want to be, literal in the sense that we are located in the great South and aspirational for what we will strive to be.''

Its main focus would be to ''create better lives through sustainable development''.

There will be particular focus on identifying opportunities in tourism, horticulture, food and aquaculture.

Venture Southland previously operated as a joint committee of the three Southland councils - Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council and Gore District Council - but the new organisation will instead be a council-controlled organisation.

Great South chief executive Ann Lockhart said it would be business-led with backing from a broad range of shareholders, including local authorities.

She said a challenge the area would soon face was a shortage of people able to work - a 2014 commissioned labour-market assessment forecast shortages of up to 12,000 employees in the next 15 years due to an ageing population and people leaving the workforce.

In an attempt to negate this, one of the main focuses for the Southland regional development strategy would be to increase the region's population by 10,000 people for 2025 - a target that was already ''probably a way towards that goal ... just by natural migration''.

In response to a question whether there were any job losses as a result of the transition, the answer was: ''Community development services previously carried out by Venture Southland have moved in-house to SDC. As a result, those who previously worked in the community development team for Venture Southland were not offered contracts with Great South. Some of the staff affected were instead able to gain employment at SDC.''

All other Venture Southland staff who had contracts after June 30 were offered contracts with Great South, Ms Lockhart said.

No total cost of the transition was given, as it is unknown at present.

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