The modern tech landscape is very globally competitive. There is a shortage of tech talent in New Zealand but there’s also a shortage right around the world. This means that countries, cities, and companies need to be putting in place strategies to attract and retain the best tech talent.
This is where New Zealand has been wise to create “magnet cities”. Magnet cities are those that have made a deliberate decision to actively invest in transforming their city to be highly attractive to a specific type of person – young wealth creators. This is the group of educated and ambitious people that comprises entrepreneurs, researchers, designers, engineers, artists, app and game developers, animators, and clean-tech advocates.
Why are magnet cities important?
It is today’s young wealth creators that are the drivers of innovation and growth. By actively encouraging the creation of infrastructure and working environments that attract young wealth creators across three magnet cities; Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, New Zealand is embarking on a program to ensure its cities are modern, attractive, and globally competitive.
Through the designation of being a magnet city, cities are in effect declaring a willingness to refashion and leverage the city’s assets to encourage young wealth creators and innovative companies to move to or remain in the city. This means moving beyond just investing in physical infrastructure and developments geared to young people, such as redeveloping areas for bars or nightlife, to focus on infrastructure that supports new technologies and innovation.
The 7 principles of creating a magnet city
In its Magnet Cities in New Zealand report, KPMG has outlined seven key principles that can be used to drive a city’s growth and development towards being global tech hot spots:
- Attract young wealth creators – Identify and establish a unique relationship between the city and the particular group of young wealth creators the city wants to attract. This group should have a logical connection to the city’s aims and points of attraction – based on the city’s history and heritage.
- Physical renewal – Ongoing physical renewal keeps cities new and interesting. The city needs to consider the housing requirements by the target group of young wealth creators including density, location, and access to public transport. A strong downtown area can strengthen the magnetic pull of the entire city.
- City identity – Cities that attract young wealth creators need a strong and clear city identity that residents can connect with. Without a clear city identity it is difficult for people to understand what the city stands for and its points of attraction. Through concerted effort it is also possible to create a new city identity.
- Connected – Magnet cities must be well connected to other cities so they are easy to get to and from. Visitors help build magnetism and are potentially tomorrow’s residents.
- New ideas – Magnet cities nurture new ideas. Where possible, it is advantageous to leverage academic institutions to help bring changes to the city. Cities need to be specific about the industry clusters they want to support and then focus on those developments.
- Fundraisers – Magnet city governments attract private investment, research grants, and public funds for the city. Progressive magnet cities also offer their own risk capital to attract investment and funds. For significant improvement of a city to occur, it requires both public and private money working together.
- Strong leaders – Reinventing a city requires strong mayors and civic leaders. Magnet city leaders have to stay true to the long term vision and work more collaboratively with residents, investors, developers, businesses, and universities than is the norm.
New Zealand’s 3 magnet cities
Three of New Zealand’s main cities have been designated as magnet cities:
Auckland – Population 1.6 million
Attraction focus: Nature Tech – the intersection of culture, food, health, and technology for life.
Wellington – Population 214,000
Attraction focus: Fusion of technology, creativity, and public service experience.
Christchurch – Population 397,000
Attraction focus: Boundary busters – fusion of creativity and disruption.
Magnet cities are taking an active approach to ensure they compete more effectively in attracting the wealth creators that enable a city’s transformation and growth. They provide a blueprint to cities around the world looking to avoid cycles of decline or falling populations to instead inspire the world’s best and brightest to live and work there.
If you would like to find out more about the world’s magnet cities and how they’re shaping the modern tech landscape, Finite would love to tell you more.