Dunedin’s engineering and manufacturing sector could provide the blueprint for the rest of the country as long as it works together, says the Minister for Small Business and Manufacturing.

Andrew Bayly was in the city yesterday to speak to a gathering of about 50 people at the 2024 Southland and Otago Regional Engineering Collective summit.

It was “staggering” the Otago and Southland regions had areas of core expertise — such as IT and gaming — with “fabulous” world-leading manufacturers that flew under the radar, he said after making his presentation.

“The sheer fact is, manufacturing is crucial to Otago and Dunedin in particular, and long may it continue because we need more of it.

“I wish the whole of New Zealand was at the same level that Dunedin is.”

The city had the scale to fast-track its manufacturing outcomes and Mr Bayly urged Business South to think about how to grow the region’s skills.

A regional business planning strategy for Dunedin was “really important” to address known hurdles for small businesses — such as digitisation, access to talent and profiling.

Mr Bayly said he was “really” open to looping education and business portfolios into regional programmes for the nation’s engineering sector, but he needed to see a proven model of success to make it happen.

“If we can do that, what I’m keen to do is to pull it around the rest of the country.

“If you’re in Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, whatever — why don’t you go down to Dunedin and see how they’ve done it.”

Every place had its own skill set, expertise or specialty.

“If Dunedin came with a package saying this is what we want to do and this is all the joined-up thinking, that’s something I’m going to be really keen to do whatever I can do to support it.”

The event was organised in conjunction with Business South.

Business South chief executive Mike Collins said the seminar was about businesses coming together and sharing practices to identify opportunities for growth.

Building relationships within the engineering sector was “critical” to being able to win Mr Bayly’s backing for southern business, Mr Collins said.

“We’ve got some really good ideas here that we want to start to implement that could actually be scaled up for the rest of the country,” he said.

“Having the minister here to be able to talk to them about those types of things will enable them to do it.”

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