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The importance of education to the prosperity of Palmerston North and the Manawatū region is recognised in the latest sector profile released today by Palmerston North City Council.
GDP estimates prepared by the Council suggest the sector had a direct GDP contribution in 2012 of $450 million and an indirect contribution of $250m, giving a total $700m contribution to regional GDP.
Spending by education institutions is estimated to have contributed $545m and spending by students $155m.
Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor says the contribution of the education sector is one of the key reasons why our city continues to grow even during the global financial crisis.
He says the effects of the education sector are much larger than its direct contribution to economic activity.
"Palmerston North is known world-wide as a centre of education excellence. Students live, work, volunteer and participate in sports and cultural activities in the city, they are part of the makeup of our community.
"A number of head offices, including Toyota New Zealand purposefully shifted to Palmerston North because of the educational facilities. Companies such as Unlimited Realities, Spider Tracks, Bacon No Tillage and many other companies were founded by people who studied in Palmerston North. Education is part of our city's reputation."
Highlights from the profile include:
• High levels of participation in early childhood education in the region across all ethnic groups
• Significant growth in average hours in early childhood education.
• Secondary schools continue to attract pupils from outside the region.
• Secondary school University Entrance achievement levels in the region compare favourably with the New Zealand average.
The profile also recognises education sector linkages with related sectors which are also contributing to greater prosperity in the region:
• Research sector organisations in the region employed 800 staff in February 2012. The research organisations based next to the Massey campus reflect the university's strength in agriculture, industrial development and infrastructure. The region accounts for ten percent of national employment in agricultural machinery manufacturing, also reflecting these links.
• Visitors, such as those coming to the region for conventions, graduation ceremonies, extramural block courses and visiting family and friends. Estimates prepared earlier this year suggest the May Massey University graduation ceremonies alone bring around $0.5m additional economic activity into the region.
• Sectors which employ students, such as retailing, distribution centres and call centres, for example.
• Businesses that are attracted to the region because of links to Massey University and also the quality of educational opportunities available for their employees.
Economic policy advisor Peter Crawford says the economic profile is a useful addition to the set of economic profiles for the region which includes: Agriculture, Defence, Logistics, Manufacturing, Tourism, Research, Not for Profit and Government - you can find out more about these by visiting http://www.pncc.govt.nz/about/economy/sector-profiles/.