Timing is everything in politics and I can’t think of many better ways to kick off your campaign for mayor than to announce that you’ve brokered a deal to bring over 300 new jobs to your city.
This morning, John Morrison announced in the Dominion Post that he and his mate, John Dow, have secured a deal with Australian call centre outfit, CallActive, that will bring between 300 and 500 jobs to the City. This is on top of ANZ’s confirmation that it is creating 70 call centre jobs in the Tory St campus owned by Ian Cassels.
No doubt some intellectuals will turn up their noses at call centre jobs, but as the old NZ Institute once highlighted, we are uniquely placed as an english speaking company with a matching timezone to offer low cost solutions in this space to Australian companies. Plus it’s job growth in the Capital and we need to embrace it.
The most interesting aspect of this deal is that it highlights the role of the Mayor and Council in facilitating business in the City. A fundamental role of the Council is to create an environment that encourages businesses to grow and flourish in the City. In many ways, outside of the Chambers, the Mayors main role is to be the Cheerleader-in-Chief for Wellington and you have to say that from his current role, John Morrison appears to have used his networks and nous to find this opportunity and act as the Cheerleader in Chief by getting the deal.
Now of course, he is operating within the current Council and he is just one councillor. But he owned the AFL game on ANZAC Day – he was the one on the field representing Wellington (apparently Celia Wade-Brown turned down going on the field). He brought the game here and by all accounts that was crucial to Wellington getting this deal ahead of Auckland as he was able to make a deeper connection with the Australians beyond the business table. At a time when so many corporate jobs are heading to Auckland (in the last few years ANZ, BNZ, Telecom and others have shifted their HQs and numerous jobs to Auckland from Wellington) this is a significant deal for the City. If I was Morrison I would be exploiting the hell out of it too!
While others have been off setting up committees to handwring en-masse and were no doubt drafting think-piece white papers on what Wellington needs to do, Morrison saw an opportunity and nailed it.
Whether he has the team around him to build off this momentum is probably the next question. I guess we will see, but it’s a good start by him. Game on.