Budget Response

Yesterday’s Budget announcement by Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson is largely positive for the West Coast business community, but it will not solve all of the current and pending economic issues we face.

On the Coast, we are already experiencing a significant impact from the COVID-19 crisis with businesses closing and our unemployment rate rising to 7.5 percent. The full extent of the economic fall-out is yet to come, so against this backdrop the 2020 ‘Rebuilding Together’ Budget can be seen as a positive ‘first’ step towards recovery for the Country and our region.

The shift to Level 2 yesterday has been great news for the Coast. It has meant more of our businesses are open again, but we must acknowledge that it will be quite some time before business returns to normal.

We will require support from central Government to see us through this challenging time, so we are pleased to see an emphasis on business recovery in the Budget through targeted expenditure.

$3.2 billion extension of the wage subsidy scheme.

One of the most significant announcements in the Budget was the $3.2b extension of the wage subsidy scheme.

The Government’s wage subsidy scheme has been a lifesaver for many businesses on the Coast. The shift to Level 2 has seen more businesses reopen their doors, but there are various new challenges - changes in demand and consumer behaviour, and new social distancing regulations. As a result, an extension to the wage subsidy was needed.

The additional $3.2b will be more tightly targeted, with only businesses that have experienced or are forecasting a 50 percent drop in revenue eligible for the eight-week extension.

This will provide much needed relief for many businesses across our diverse sectors – particularly those linked to the tourism industry.

More than half of all tourist spending on the Coast comes from international visitors, so with the collapse of that market segment it is likely that most of our tourism operators as well as those in the retail and food services sectors will meet the new criteria for the wage subsidy extension.

But again, it is limited and will end in September unless further extensions are given. To remain viable in the foreseeable future, tourism businesses will have to use the breathing space the subsidy provides to try to reposition themselves and pivot towards the domestic market where possible.

$400 million targeted tourism support fund.

The closure of New Zealand’s borders to international visitors has hit the Coast hard. Tourists inject half a billion dollars a year into our region - $271m of that comes from international visitors.

In that respect, the $400m allocated by the Government for targeted tourism support for the whole country is just a drop in the bucket. However, Minister of Tourism Hon Kelvin Davis has stated that this fund is just the start, and additional support will be rolled out over the coming months.

At the moment, details of how the $400m will be spent are quite vague. Some will be allocated to a ‘Transitions programme’ to provide advice and guidance for businesses on how to hibernate or redesign their business for the domestic or Australasian market. DWC has already been working in this space, including hosting a webinar on how to hibernate your business. We have been advised that tourism businesses can ‘register their interest’ for the Transitions programme via the MBIE or TNZ websites.

A ‘Strategic Tourism Asset programme” will provide bespoke support for businesses that have a positive flow on effect to the wider community. The example given by Minister Davis was Whalewatch Kaikoura. How these businesses will be assessed and what the bespoke support will look like is not clear. Again, businesses can register their interest via the MBIE or TNZ websites.

Other parts of the package include setting up a Ministerial Tourism Recovery Group made up of Minister Davis, Eugenie Sage and Fletcher Tabuteau along with a taskforce to look at the future of tourism.

Tourism NZ will now focus on domestic marketing; however, details of the campaign are again difficult to obtain at the moment.

Next week we will be hosting Minister Davis for a webinar on ‘restarting regional tourism’. It will present a great opportunity for our tourism operators to ask questions so we can gain a better insight on how this package may help the West Coast.

$1.6 billion trades and training scheme.

The Government has announced that apprenticeships and vocational courses in ‘critical industries’ will be made free over the next two years for everyone.

This is particularly good news for the West Coast, as our region has one of the highest rates of 15-24 year olds ‘not employed or engaged in education or training’ (NEET). Our NEET rate is 15 percent, compared to the national average of 12 percent.

To build a robust economy for the future we need an educated and skilled workforce, so any additional funding for apprenticeships and vocational courses made available to the Coast will help our region going forward and will help overcome our existing staff shortages in the trades.

$19.3 million to place 10,000 people into primary sector jobs.

The Government has also allocated $19.3 million over four years to help recently unemployed people retrain and find jobs in the primary industries. The aim is to place at least 10,000 people nationally in jobs in the intermediate term.

The West Coast economy has traditionally relied on the backbone of a strong primary sector. The primary sector contributes 23.4% of our GDP and provides 14.2% of our jobs.

Many farmers on the Coast struggle to find workers, so this initiative has the potential to support growth for our region by attracting workers to this highly productive sector. On the West Coast Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing jobs add an average of around $164,000 to our GDP – so any growth here will benefit the whole region.

$1.1 billion for restoring the environment.

Almost $1.1 billion from the Budget will be put towards restoring the environment with the Government expecting to create about 11,000 jobs nationally. Given how big the Department of Conservation estate is on the Coast, we are expecting significant benefits here.

Ideally, this package will allow businesses considering redundancies and downscaling to redeploy their staff on environmentally focused activities. Given the news of some of the recent big closures in the Glacier Country, there is a great opportunity for the Coast to get behind this major initiative.

It will support retraining and retaining workers in the region by engaging them in meaningful work before they can move back into the tourism sector as demand returns.

Infrastructure and transport investments.

The Government has also allocated significant funds to an infrastructure investment package ($3.2 billion) and a railway package ($1.2 billion). Our region’s Mayors and our Economic Recovery Steering Group have already put forward a number of shovel ready projects to the Government for the West Coast, so we are expecting some significant job creating projects to come from this.

Further business support.

The Budget has also outlined various other packages that should benefit Coast businesses, including increased support for R&D and e-commerce support. We are still awaiting specific details on these packages and how West Coast businesses will be able to access them.

Overall, the Budget will go some way towards helping the West Coast recover, but it certainly will not solve all of the economic and social issues we are facing. There is still $20 billion in unallocated funds and as one of the hardest hit regions we should rightly expect more governmental support.

DWC is about to send out another Coast-wide survey to our business community to help better gauge the impact of COVID-19. We would greatly appreciate your participation in this, so we can provide an evidence-based overview to inform Government and provide support.

Media Release: 15 May 2020

New Advisory Body member for DWC

Development West Coast (DWC) has appointed a new Advisory Body member, Chris Milne.

Chris is currently a Managing Director at Murray & Co a leading New Zealand investment banking firm providing expert financial, strategic and transactional advice to companies and other commercial entities. He joined Murray & Co in 2006 following a successful career in senior finance roles with large corporates both offshore and in New Zealand.

His previous roles have included seven years at Ngāi Tahu as CFO and COO and four years in senior finance positions offshore with Inchcape plc in the UK, Singapore, and Japan.

“I look forward to making a contribution to support DWC’s role in promoting activity to underpin sustainable economic development for the West Coast community,” he says.

Chris is also a Trustee of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra Foundation, and a member of the Management and Finance Board of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch.

He will replace Keith Rushbrook who has been on the Advisory Body since 2007.

DWC Chief Executive Heath Milne says Mr Rushbook has made a significant contribution to the West Coast over the past 13 years, and his professionalism and insights will be missed.

“We welcome Chris to the Advisory Body. With his impressive 30-year career in finance, he will bring a lot of experience and business acumen to the role,” says Heath Milne.

“As we begin the economic recovery process from COVID-19 the Advisory Body will play a key role in ensuring the right investment decisions are made to support West Coast businesses.”

Chris Milne joins David Steele and Jenn Bestwick on DWC’s Advisory Body.

Media Release: 12 May 2020

What Alert Level 3 will look like for business

Yesterday the Government provided some more clarity on what a shift to Alert Level 3 will look like for our business community. We are still waiting to hear on Monday whether the country will be moving down to Alert Level 3 at midnight on Wednesday, April 22 or if the lockdown will be extended.

This morning Finance Minister Grant Robertson indicated that when we do shift to Alert Level 3 it would last for at least two weeks.

It’s good that we now have more detail on what Level 3 will look like. This will help businesses who are able to start operating again to prepare so they can hit the ground running when the alert levels are dropped.

The key message from PM Jacinda Ardern was that under Level 3 ‘Safe Businesses’ will also be able to operate along with ‘Essential Businesses’.

If people can work from home, they should continue to do so.

If they NEED to return to work, the workplace will need to apply clear and documented Health and Safety practices – more information on what will be required for specific sectors will be available in the coming days.

Businesses that are only accessed by the staff, and aren’t customer facing, such as those in building and construction or forestry, will be able to operate again under strict health and safety and physical distancing rules.

According to the PM, businesses that are accessed by the public or customers such as retail, hardware stores and restaurants will be able to operate but only for online or phone purchases and contactless delivery or click and collect.

This may require some innovation from businesses to continue operating. Already we are seeing some of our cafes and restaurants looking into utilising apps and other innovative systems to allow them to operate in a contactless manner.

We urge Coasters to support our local businesses that are going online and starting to operate in a click and collect manner. Order locally rather than from off the Coast if you can help it.

Under Level 3, businesses cannot offer services which involve face-to-face contact or sustained close contact (e.g. hairdressing, massages, house cleaning, etc).

While it is great news that under Level 3 more businesses will be able to operate again in some capacity, we still recognise how difficult this is for those who have longer to wait before they can get working again.

Again, we encourage any business going through this crisis to reach out for assistance. At DWC, we are here to help you.

Media Release: 17 April 2020

Government announces new business support measures

This morning the Government announced a range of new support measures for small and medium sized businesses, including a $3.1b tax relief package.

With many local businesses looking down the barrel of a loss this year, the proposed ‘tax loss carry-back scheme’ would allow businesses to access their previous tax payments as cash refunds.
This could make a significant difference for small businesses. Freeing up cashflow may help some of those that are currently vulnerable, but still viable, get through the current crisis.

The Government has also allocated $25m towards business consultancy support, part of which will go towards supporting businesses through the national Regional Business Partner Network (RBP).

As the West Coast partner for the RBP network, DWC is busy helping businesses access tailored specialist support related to things like business continuity planning, finance and cashflow management, HR and staffing issues, and health and wellness.

Since the lockdown started, we have been working directly with over 240 local businesses to make sure they are accessing the different forms of support available. Our staff are still busy reaching out to help more businesses.

As we prepare to enter our fourth week in lockdown, we are also thinking ahead to what a recovery from the COVID-19 crisis might look like for the West Coast.

With border restrictions and controls likely to be in place for some time to come, the impact of COVID-19 could, in some respects, reshape our regional economy.

We are working closely with key stakeholders on a number of initiatives (some are outlined below) to help the West Coast economy prepare for its eventual rebound.

The Prime Minister has stated that we won’t be moving out of Alert Level 4 early. Cabinet will make its decision on 20 April on what the next steps will be.

A shift down to Alert Level 3 will still present significant restrictions though. On Thursday, the PM will provide more details on what this will look like for businesses.

Businesses should be using this time to prepare for a possible reopening under different scenarios. This could include looking at whether you can work with social distancing, can the Ministry of Health contact trace all your employees and customers and will you need any PPE.

The impact of the lockdown has caused significant issues for many in our business community. So now is also the time for businesses to make sure they are utilising all available support.

There are various forms of assistance available to help Coast businesses – whether through DWC itself, our partner organisations, the banks and the Government.

Thank-you to all who have contacted us, and we encourage you to continue reaching out for support and to keep us updated on your situation, so we can continue advocating for you.

Media Release: 15 April 2020

Unprecedented times for our economy

The last few weeks have been unprecedented. The impact of the lockdown has turned our economy upside down, causing significant cashflow issues for many in our business community.

At DWC we are looking at what we can do to help support businesses through this difficult time. If your business is experiencing cashflow issues at present, but will be viable post-lockdown, get in touch with us so we can discuss your specific situation.

With the lockdown, we estimate that around 50 percent of our workforce are still able to work in some capacity - whether remotely or as ‘essential workers’. However, this leaves 8,114 Coasters who under current circumstances can’t work at all.

The inability to operate and uncertainty of when business will return to normal is obviously very challenging. And this is coming on the back of an already difficult financial year for many businesses, which saw disruptions from the Waiho Bridge washout, the Omoto slip and the partial closure of SH6 in December.

We are working closely with businesses to make sure they are accessing all the available forms of support.

The Ministry of Social Development is doing a great job with the Wage Subsidy scheme, which many Coast businesses have already accessed. These subsidies provide some much-needed breathing room, but we recognise for some businesses this isn’t enough to see them through the immediate situation.

Some of the businesses we are talking with are already seeking professional advice from accountants and lawyers, and looking at cashflow forecasting to determine how long they can last with no income and whether their business will be viable in the future or whether they will have to close shop permanently.

Others are beginning to think ahead on how they can rebuild and relaunch once the lockdown is removed.

We strongly encourage businesses experiencing immediate cashflow issues to contact us to discuss their circumstances. Our staff are also busy reaching out to local businesses to offer support. We are here to help.

Media Release: 8 April 2020

COVID-19 business update

As we enter our second week of lockdown, many of us are adjusting to the new normal of working remotely, while others have been unable to work in any capacity.

Based on insights from Infometrics and Stats NZ, we are speculating that out of our 16,263 strong workforce, 8,149 Coasters are still working in some form - either working remotely or as ‘essential workers’.

This means under lockdown around half of our workforce is currently unable to work in any capacity. The worst hit sectors are Accommodation and Food services with a possible 1,767 people currently unable to work, Construction: 1,452, Manufacturing: 925 and Retail trade: 769.

For many Coast businesses this inability to operate is having a dramatic toll - not just on their business but on their wellbeing.

At DWC, our staff are busy working with local businesses through their current needs and exploring how we can more directly support businesses through this difficult time. We are also working on strategies and projects to get the Coast economy back on its feet once the lockdown is lifted.

In other news, the West Coast will be receiving Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) support of $2.08m to run a Te Ara Mahi project - ‘The West Coast Regional Employment Scheme’ which will be run with support from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). The government recognises the need for continued support for the region and the Provincial Development Unit has been instrumental in getting this project across the line.

This will be an employment and training programme targeted at skill shortage areas across the Coast. The programme will fit West Coast businesses seeking to create new positions with specific training tailored to jobs, as well as the upskilling of existing employees to new positions. Under the scheme businesses will be able to apply for subsidies to help create new jobs and take on additional workers.

Another project we are working on, in conjunction with MSD and other regional development agencies, is setting up a regional employment hub to facilitate getting available workers into much-needed employment once the lockdown is lifted.

Our tourism team is also hard at work formulating a domestic tourism campaign for when travel restrictions are lifted. There is also a large piece of work to be carried out looking at the future of tourism on the West Coast and how we can adjust to a very different visitor profile in the future.

We need to ensure our economy is in the best possible position to get up and running once the lockdown is removed.

As the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving, so too is the Government’s response to businesses. There are a number of Government support packages aimed at addressing short-term cashflow needs, with further support packages potentially in the pipeline.

Applications are now open for the Government’s Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses. And a new leave scheme for essential workers will be available from Monday.

Please let us know what you are experiencing so we can continue to advocate to Government on your behalf.

This is a very challenging time for many in our business community, but I want to reassure you the team at DWC is here to support you and advocate for you. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Our contact details remain the same: Ph: 0800 768 0140 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Media Release: 2 April 2020

$2.08 in PGF funding for West Coast Regional Employment Scheme

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the woman who lost her life on the West Coast yesterday.

This sad news really highlights the importance of the lockdown and drives home the message that people need to stay home and stick to their bubble to help break the chain of transmission.

The lockdown is already having a major financial impact on our business community who have been forced to close shop. But at the end of the day, this is all about saving lives. Economies can recover - lives cannot.

We need to be thinking about short- and medium-term strategies to get the West Coast economy back on its feet once the lockdown is lifted.

Towards these ends, we are working closely with Government agencies and local stakeholders on a range of potential strategies going forward.

We have just received confirmation that the West Coast will be receiving Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) support of $2.08m to run a Te Ara Mahi (pathways to work) project - ‘The West Coast Regional Employment Scheme’.

This will be an employment and training programme targeted at skill shortage areas across the Coast. The programme will fit people seeking employment and training to jobs, as well as the upskilling of existing employees to new jobs. Under the scheme businesses will be able to apply for subsidies to help create new positions and take on additional workers.

These would be new positions with the employer and employees committing to jobs lasting a minimum of 18 months.

DWC will be working alongside the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to run the programme across the region to help stimulate our economy.
The programme is based on a successful pilot scheme that was run in the Buller Region in 2016, which was jointly funded by DWC and MSD and delivered with the assistance of the Buller District Council.

More details about the West Coast Regional Employment Scheme will released at a later date. This is just one example of some of the work going on behind the scenes to ensure our economy is best placed to recover after the lockdown ends.

For short-term cashflow assistance, look into applying to the Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme, or talk to your bank about the Mortgage Holiday and Business Finance Guarantee Schemes. These are Government initiatives set up to help business get through the immediate challenges they are facing.

If you need any assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at DWC. Stay safe.

Media Release: 30 March 2020

COVID-19 regional employment hub being set up

As the country goes into lockdown, the team at DWC continues to operate remotely and have good systems in place to manage inquiries from our business contacts.

There are a number of resources available for Coast businesses to tap into for support during this unprecedented time. If you haven’t looked into the Government’s Employer Wage Subsidy package, do so. This is a great resource that can help relieve immediate cashflow issues and protect employment on the Coast.

Our staff have been busy talking local businesses through the application process, and there have been some questions arising regarding eligibility for these schemes. We are working closely with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), and other Government agencies, and have been passing on your questions for greater clarification.

MSD, while under extreme pressure, are doing a great job. As they iron out the kinks in the system, they have been providing greater clarification on many of the issues being raised. If you have any questions or queries about the Wage Subsidy scheme get in touch with DWC and we’ll do our best to help you.

In conjunction with MSD and other regional development agencies, a regional employment hub dubbed a “war room” is currently being set up that will be a resource for both businesses and affected workers.

The hub will facilitate getting available workers into much-needed employment once the lockdown is removed. The details of this will be made available to all our business contacts shortly.

We have also had a number of businesses and private individuals contact us with the offer of accommodation for those struggling to self-isolate. It’s great to see this kind of community spirit. This information has been passed on to local civil defence who are liaising with local police to ensure those in need are taken care of.

It is heartening to see our community uniting and staying strong during this unprecedented time.

If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at DWC. We are here to help you. This will also enable us to better understand the needs of our business community, so we can provide Government agencies with regular updates to ensure they can continue developing responses that are appropriate to our changing landscape.

Media Release: 26 March 2020

Government's business support packages offer some relief

New Zealand is heading into unchartered territory with the country shifting to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 and going into lockdown at 11:59pm tonight.

This will mean all ‘non-essential’ businesses must close for the next four weeks – at a minimum. To see the current list of essential businesses that are allowed to remain open visit www.covid-19.govt.nz, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for clarification about your specific business.

The staff at Development West Coast, like many others, are adjusting to the new normal of working remotely. Most of our team have been reassigned to assist West Coast businesses deal with the current economic impacts of COVID-19, and to prepare for the recovery stage – to get our economy back on its feet once the shutdown ends.

After spending hours every day talking with local businesses, the consistent message coming through is that, while as resilient as ever, many in our business community are hurting financially and are concerned about the long-term impact this situation may have for them.

Given all this uncertainty, it is encouraging to see the Government willing to pump money into the economy with the announcement of some bold relief packages.
The recently expanded $9.3b Wage Subsidy scheme provides much-needed breathing space for some businesses, and work security for many of our 16,263 strong workforce. If your business hasn’t already, look into applying for these wage subsidies.

On the Coast we have around 50 businesses with over 21 employees who previously weren’t eligible for wage subsidies for all of their staff. The recent changes mean the subsidies should now cover their entire workforce.

With many businesses out of operation for at least four weeks, cash flow issues are one of the key concerns we are hearing. Yesterday’s announcement that the Government, in partnership with retail banks, will be implementing a $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses provides some reassurance here.

This scheme will provide short-term credit to cushion the financial distress for our business community and hopefully help protect further jobs during this unprecedented time.

The package is proposed to include a six-month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19.

According to Finance Minister Grant Robertson, the scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to businesses with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million per annum. The loans will be for a maximum of three years and expected to be provided by the banks at competitive, transparent rates.

The banks will be announcing the finer details about what support they can offer over the coming days.

While these measures don’t take away all the pain, they do provide some reassurance and will help see some of our businesses through this crisis.

If your business is being impacted by COVID-19, remember there are a number of people, organisations and resources you can tap into for support. If you need any business assistance during these challenging times, don’t hesitate to contact the team at DWC – we are here to help.

Media Release: 25 March 2020

Mortgage holiday and $6.25b Business Finance Guarantee Scheme announced 

We are all scrambling to keep up with the evolving COVID-19 developments and the ramifications they will have for our businesses.

NZ is now at Alert Level 3 (Restrict) and will be shifting to Alert Level 4 (Eliminate) at midnight on Wednesday. Now that community transmission has been confirmed, the country will be in lockdown to contain the spread. Alert Level 4 is expected to continue for a minimum of four weeks at this stage.

Under Alert Level 4 all non-essential businesses must close. This includes bars, restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds.

Essential businesses, and those that support them, will continue to provide the necessities of life for everyone in New Zealand. This means food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support will continue to be available.

Visit COVID-19.govt.nz for the list of essential businesses (Note: this list will evolve over time).

If you haven’t already talked to your bank, we encourage you to open lines of communication with your bank and have a plan in place.

To help our business clients through this time we are reducing our commercial finance interest rates by 1% for those on a fixed rate. We are also getting in contact with all our commercial finance clients over the next few days to assess their situation and see what assistance we can provide.

Yesterday the Government also announced they will be increasing the reach of the employer subsidy package – making many more businesses eligible. The overall employer subsidy package has been raised from $5.1b to $9.3b. If you haven’t applied for this yet, we encourage you to look into it, as the shift in alert levels will likely impact all West Coast businesses.

Today further announcements were made regarding a mortgage holiday scheme offered by retail banks. There will be a "six-month mortgage repayment holiday to homeowners whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19". The exact criteria will be announced by the banks in the coming days.

The Government and the banks will also implement a $6.25b Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy.

The package is proposed to include a six-month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19.

The scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million per annum. The loans will be for a maximum of three years and expected to be provided by the banks at competitive, transparent rates.

We are waiting to hear further details about these new developments but will keep you updated.

DWC’s physical office may now be closed, but our staff are working remotely and are only a phone call or email away. If you need any assistance don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 768 0140 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Media Release: 24 March 2020

 

COVID-19 DWC business update

Things are changing by the day. The country is moving into unprecedented territory in response to COVID-19. 

New Zealand now has 102 confirmed cases. While there are no confirmed cases on the Coast yet, many of our businesses have already been hit hard financially. Things are only going to become more difficult with new restrictions and the cancellation of the TranzAlpine service and closure of DOC huts.

The Government has announced a four-stage alert system for Covid-19, with New Zealand moving up to alert level 2 – ‘Reduce Contact’.

This means COVID-19 is contained but the risk of community transmission is growing, and human contact must be further reduced. People over-70 have been told to stay at home, everyone needs to limit domestic travel, and workplaces should implement plans to reduce person-to-person contact.

Looking at what is unfolding across the world, these are prudent steps that are necessary to help limit the spread. To reduce our person-to-person contact, DWC will be closing its Greymouth office from today.

Our team will be working remotely and are fully committed to supporting our clients and business community through this challenging period. We remain only a phone call, video call or email away. 

To help our business clients through this time we are reducing our commercial finance interest rates by 1% for those on a fixed rate.  We are also getting in contact with all our commercial finance clients to assess their situation and offer support where it’s needed. 

If your business is being impacted by COVID-19, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you.

It’s also important you talk to your bank, landlord, suppliers and accountant to get in front of cashflow issues early. And contact your insurance provider to see if you are eligible to receive any business interruption insurance. 

After taking these steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, you will be eligible to apply for Covid-19 wage subsidies or leave payments through Work and Income.

We are hearing from local businesses that the application process has been relatively simple, with some already receiving payment. 

However, there are some questions and grey areas that are coming up. Let us know if you experience any hurdles while applying. We are advocating for Coast businesses and working closely with the Ministry of Social Development to get greater clarification on any issues that arise.

At the end of the day, these support packages are there to help impacted businesses. Read the criteria and declaration information carefully, answer the form genuinely, and remember there are many people and organisations here to help.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has indicated there will likely be more announcements soon about economic support for medium and large businesses who are not adequately covered in the current support packages.

In order to protect confidence in our banking system the Reserve Bank have announced a program to purchase $30B of NZ Government Bonds over the next year, a process known as quantitative easing. This follows similar moves around the world by other central banks.  ANZ Bank have commented that the size of this program exceeded expectations and will go a long way in ensuring confidence in our banking system is retained and ensuring that financial markets retain their liquidity.   

We will also be reaching out to local businesses who are able to supply products and services in support of the West Coast’s response to Covid-19. We’ve identified that there are local businesses who are manufacturing products and services that will be in increased demand nationally or even globally, as well as products and services that can assist Coasters who are physically isolating. Watch this space.

Media Release: 23 March 2020

DWC encorauges impacted businesses to tap into COVID-19 support

Development West Coast (DWC) recommends local businesses affected by the wider impact of COVID-19 to tap into the various forms of support available.

“We are hearing loud and clear from our business community about the financial and emotional impact COVID-19 is having on their businesses,” says DWC chief executive Heath Milne.

“Many are already struggling with cashflow issues and the challenge of paying staff.”

“It’s important you talk to your bank, landlord and suppliers to see what options are available to get in front of cash flow issues early before they worsen. Another option is financial support available from the Government.”

The Government’s recent $12.1b COVID-19 relief package includes $5.1b set aside for a wage subsidy scheme.

“We encourage businesses who have been impacted to approach DWC for any assistance or clarification on how to tap into this support.

“The Government’s wage subsidy package will give businesses much needed breathing space and the ability to retain staff as the broader financial impact of the virus is felt.”

“The scheme also covers the self-employed, which is very important for the West Coast as 18.4% of our businesses are self-employed,” says Mr Milne.

The wage subsidies are available for business in all sectors and regions that can show a 30% decline in revenue for any SINGLE month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before (including projected revenue). This could include any month between January and June - for example, March 2020 compared to February 2019.

 “Many local businesses experienced significant revenue disruptions in 2019 due to abnormal events - like the Waiho Bridge washout. We are in conversation with the Ministry of Social Development to ensure those who experienced these revenue anomalies in 2019 won’t be adversely affected when comparing months while applying for wage subsidies.

“Officials have acknowledged these issues and have reassured us that the genuine intent of the application is what is important. We await further clarification around this.”

If eligible for wage subsidies, employers would be paid $585.80 per week for full-time staff and $350 for part-time. Payments are capped at $150,000 per business. They will be paid in a lump sum. The support will be available for 12 weeks.

Businesses must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. These steps could include activating their business continuity plan and seeking advice and support from DWC as the West Coast’s Regional Business Partner or other professional service providers such as banks or accountants.

The businesses must also make their best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.

“If you need any assistance applying for the wage subsidy scheme, DWC is here to help you,” says Mr Milne.

Apply online for the wage subsidy: www.workandincome.govt.nz

Contact DWC for any assistance or advice: 0800 768 0140 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Media Release: 19 March 2020

DWC welcomes Government relief package

Development West Coast Chief Executive Heath Milne welcomes the Government’s $12.1 billion relief package for the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The COVID-19 travel restrictions to Aotearoa New Zealand are already hurting tourist operators on the Coast, with more and more cancellations coming through. This is all on the back of recent major events like the Waiho Bridge washout, Omoto slip and the closure of SH6 in December,” Mr Milne says.

Tourism is one of the West Coast’s main economic drivers, contributing around 15% to Gross Domestic Product and employing 3,657 West Coasters – around 23% of our workforce.

“Tourism operators have been some of the first to be impacted by COVID-19, but it is also important to remember they are not the only businesses to be affected,” Mr Milne says.

“The Government has acted decisively with the $12.1b COVID-19 relief package. It’s great to see an initial support package that will quickly get funds where they are needed to protect jobs. The 12 week’s support will provide businesses with some much-needed breathing space.”

The $5.1b wage subsidy scheme will pay employers up to $150,000 per business over the next 12 weeks to keep employees on, if they can demonstrate a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June when compared to 2019.

“We are working closely with the Ministry of Social Development and local businesses who have been affected by extreme events in 2019, like the Waiho Bridge washout. We need to ensure they are not adversely affected by any of the current criteria. We hope to have further clarification around this soon.

“The outbreak is having a significant impact on our local economy – we are in for a long hard road. Once the immediate public health issues are over, we need to be prepared for the recovery. DWC and West Coast businesses will start to plan for this as soon as the immediate threat passes.

“We recommend any business looking for advice on what support is available to contact DWC. We are here to help you during this challenging time. We are also here to advocate for West Coast businesses.

“To ensure we are well-informed on how the COVID-19 situation is impacting West Coast businesses we are also conducting a short survey. The survey will take less than 5 minutes to complete and will enable us to provide an evidence-based view to Government so that appropriate responses can be organised and delivered.

Complete the survey online at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/COVID-19WC

Contact DWC on 0800 768 0140 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Media Release: 18 March 2020

COVID-19

Following the evolving situation over the weekend Development West Coast had a strategy meeting this morning on COVID-19.

As the regional economic development agency, DWC is taking a lead role in liaising with central government and their relevant agencies about assistance that will be available to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

We await further details of government support packages and how to access them. We anticipate this will be confirmed over the coming days.

We are here to help our businesses get through this challenging time with resources to support you and advise about multi-agency responses. DWC will be the point of contact for all local businesses and industry.

Signup with us via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can keep you up to date with the latest information and potential support as it becomes available.

Latest news about government support is available at: www.business.govt.nz/news/coronavirus-information-for-businesses/

Media Release: 16 March 2020

Recently released economic indicators show growth on the West Coast for the second year in a row.

DWC Chief Executive Heath Milne says it is pleasing to see positive trends in Infometric’s latest economic update for the West Coast for the year ended March 2019.

“The Coast had been in a major economic downturn since 2012, due to the closures of the Holcim NZ Westport plant and OceanaGold, and changes in the coal mining industry. Given this context, it is great to see many of our key economic indicators showing sustained growth,” says Mr Milne.

Based on the latest data, the West Coast’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by $30m (1.6%).

There was an increase in jobs of 277 (1.4%).

Mean annual earnings grew by $3,178 to $56,758. The increase in mean annual earnings of 5.9% outpaced the national growth rate of 3.8%.

The West Coast’s population also increased by 100 to 32,600.

“It is important to note, the time period for this data doesn’t include some major events that have had a serious impact on our economy, such as the Waiho (Waiau) Bridge washout, the Omoto slip and the closure of State Highway 6 south of Hari Hari during December,” says Mr Milne.

“The impact of these extreme weather events will no doubt be reflected in next year’s regional update. Nevertheless, it is pleasing to see our economy showing growth on many fronts. This is a testament to our innovative and resilient business community and the many opportunities available on the Coast.

“At DWC, we are working hard to keep this positive momentum going by enabling the development of business and industry on the West Coast,” says Mr Milne.

The latest Infometrics data can be viewed online at www.dwc.org.nz

Media release: 3 February 2020