Renee Rooney, DWC Chair - 19 December 2018
With 2019 just around the corner, it is a great time to reflect on the past year, and also acknowledge some of the achievements our West Coast community has made.
For a region that is not without its challenges, including that we are the least populated region in New Zealand, spread over the longest distance, with around 84 percent of our region under conservation land, Coasters know this is still the best place to work, live and play.
The work-life balance on the West Coast is second to none, and for centuries Coasters have been pioneers finding innovative ways to thrive in our untamed natural wilderness.
It is not surprising that tourism here is booming given the rivers, rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures we have in our backyard. The West Coast is currently leading New Zealand in percentage growth in tourist spend.
We have many innovative businesses utilising this untamed natural wilderness to produce value added products – from butter, milk and yoghurt powders to turning pure West Coast rainwater into gin.
The trailblazing spirit on the West Coast remains strong. A tech revolution is well underway, with IT businesses relocating to the Coast. Digital advances are allowing them to make software for international companies, like Disney, while working remotely from our beautiful corner of New Zealand.
Despite having less than 0.7 percent of New Zealand’s population, we constantly punch above our weight. West Coast businesses are having a significant impact on the national scene.
2018 has been a year of wider recognition for West Coast businesses, with a number of them winning national business awards. The year has also been full of national coverage, with the media spotlight shining bright on the achievements our businesses are making.
It is with pride that we see West Coast businesses gracing the covers of leading magazines and featuring in national news stories. It is fantastic to see West Coast innovation and achievements are making people stand up and take notice.
The Government recently announced a $140 million investment package into the West Coast from its Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). This is a significant boost to our economy, which also acknowledges the importance of the West Coast to New Zealand.
The past 12 months has seen over one thousand people attending DWC workshops and business networking events. We would like to thank you all for your engagement. Having our business community coming together like this is invaluable. With opportunities like the PGF, it is increasingly important that we all work together to take greatest advantage of these investments.
The trustees and staff at DWC wish you a Merry Christmas and prosperous new year and look forward to working with you in the coming year - to continue waving the West Coast flag and taking the region forward.
New Zealand’s favourite Internet gathering, NetHui, is winding its way down South on its Roadtrip this year, reaching Greymouth on October 11. NetHui brings people together to discuss the future of the Internet and the challenges and opportunities the internet brings to us all.
DWC’s Research and Innovation Manager, Helen Wilson, has been chairing the regional steering committee for NetHui Greymouth over the last few months of planning. She is looking forward to the NetHui Roadtrip in 2018. "This is a great opportunity for people from all over the region to come together and discuss how the internet shapes our lives and what it means for our region in the future.”
Many West Coast businesses, community groups and individuals have already been involved in setting the agenda for the day, which will include sessions on the internet of things, rural connectivity, beyond bricks and mortar, website DIY, the impact of technology on education in an isolated region, boosting our region using social media, computer security, blockchain and building resilience through technology.
“Emerging Internet-based technology trends pose some exciting opportunities for us and we’re looking forward to talking through all the possibilities and challenges at NetHui,” says Mequa Hourston, spokesperson for NetHui Greymouth.
Don’t miss your chance to get involved in the special event.
Register online: https://2018.nethui.nz/West-Coast
Westland Workgear has recently opened a new purpose-built premise in Greymouth. Commercial finance from DWC has helped the company build the 1200 square metre building, enabling them to keep their warehousing operation on the West Coast.
Owner and director Lewis Simpkin said their original premises served them well, but became a constraint to growth, especially due to the lack of warehouse space and facilities for their expanding workforce – which has grown from two to 16 staff.
“We were faced with the option of getting a bigger premise in Greymouth or splitting off our warehousing operation and locating it in another centre (e.g. Christchurch), and retaining our original retail premises in Greymouth,” says Lewis.
Westland Workgear pursued the option of keeping the operation together in one larger building in Greymouth. Unable to find a suitable existing building they looked into building their own.
“Early on in the process contact was made with DWC and maintained through the whole project. We found the staff to be knowledgeable and helpful and very keen to help keep our entire operation on the West Coast,” Lewis says.
“We found banks were very wary about funding a development project due to their fear of the risk of significant cost over-runs. At this point we applied to DWC for a loan to cover the build.
“We wish to express our sincere thanks to DWC for their support and encourage ongoing cooperation with other West Coast businesses to keep our region going forward,” he adds.
From their new building Westland Workgear can now offer a nationwide service - all from the West Coast.
Development West Coast in collaboration with Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) hosted a two-hour business start-up workshop yesterday evening at Tai Poutini Polytechnic.
Around 30 people attended the workshop presented by John Barnes of BMNZ. Mr Barnes drew on his vast experience mentoring business owners on the West Coast and Canterbury to provide insights on how to implement a good business plan.
“From my perspective it was a good sign that people from the West Coast show enthusiasm and are prepared to learn as much as possible before they go into business,” said Mr Barnes.
Juliette Henry from Inland Revenue also discussed tax-related issues that affect small business owners.
Participant Karen Haigh said the workshop was “very valuable and inspirational” and an “excellent chance to meet like-minded people and learn from the experts.”
DWC event manager Aaron Rees was happy to see so many budding entrepreneurs in the same room. “It’s great to see the entrepreneurial spirit so strong on the Coast.”
The Government’s announcement of the $140m investment package from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) for the West Coast acknowledges the importance of the region to New Zealand, while also providing a significant injection of cash into the region’s economy, which will benefit most Coasters either directly or indirectly.
It is important to remember this is not the last PGF announcement for the region. If you have a project that meets the fund criteria, you can still apply. Businesses looking for assistance are encouraged to approach DWC as a first point of contact.
There are various avenues of funding available to Coast businesses and DWC can point you in the right direction and help you with the process, whether that is applying to the PGF or for commercial finance through DWC itself.
DWC is also part of the Regional Business Partner Programme. This is a network that opens businesses up to assistance through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Callaghan Innovation, as well as support from the Business Mentors New Zealand Mentoring Programme.
There are various forms of business assistance available to West Coast businesses and linking Coast businesses with this support is one of the many services DWC offers.