COVID-19 is presenting both challenges and opportunities.
Over the last couple of months, DWC has hosted journalists and reporters from TVNZ Breakfast, Stuff, NZHerald and Seven Sharp, just to name a few. This has resulted in great exposure for the region in the national media. We thank all our tourism operators who have helped showcase the Coast to the rest of the country.
In the current environment the West Coast has been doing relatively well at attracting domestic visitors. According to MBIE data, retail spending on the Coast over the past four weeks was 7.9% higher than for the same period last year. In contrast New Zealand has experienced a decrease in spending of 8%.
Despite the current positive numbers, we remain cautious as there is no guarantee on how long domestic visitor numbers will continue and when international visitors will return.
COVID-19 is already having a significant effect on our economy. Unemployment amongst our working age-population has now risen to 8% - up from 6.1% at the start of the year. It’s important to note that these figures are for the week ended 4 September. Since then the wage subsidy extension and the resurgence wage subsidy have begun to end, so the jobseeker numbers may have increased further.
The impact of COVID is being experienced in vastly different ways across the region, with the Glacier Country being particularly hard hit by the loss of international visitors. It is understandably having a very real effect on the mental wellbeing of business owners and their staff. With this in mind, we recently held a wellbeing workshop in Fox Glacier.
The full extent of the economic shock of COVID is still to play out, so it is vital we support one another and leverage available opportunities.
DWC’s Capability and Growth Advisors have now issued around 200 vouchers to local businesses through the Regional Business Partner (RBP) network’s COVID-19 Business Advisory Fund and the Tourism Transition Fund. This support has enabled local businesses to tap into valuable professional advice services. We have also signed up more local service providers to the RBP programme to ensure we can keep both the advice and revenue on the Coast.
Our new PGF-funded Upskill employment and training scheme has hit the ground running. The Upskill team are providing further opportunities for West Coast businesses, supporting people to attain recognised industry qualifications, and building industry skills. The timing of Upskill couldn’t be better with numerous construction projects about to get underway. We are supporting local companies to get ready to take on contracts, meaning less of the work will end up with outside contractors.
At DWC we are looking at wider opportunities for the region. Alongside the West Coast Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Iwi, we have just signed an MoU to form the Kotahitanga kit e Uru Regional Alliance.
The Alliance has been established to initiate, support and drive West Coast initiatives and secure central government funding to support the economic recovery and mitigate the social and economic impacts of COVID.
There are also opportunities to mitigate the economic impact of COVID by increasing our output in the minerals sector. The proposed reopening of the Spring Creek mine would have a significant positive economic impact. The mine has some of the highest quality coal in the world, which can be used in the manufacture of silicon for electronics and solar panels. A real win-win opportunity.
It is a very challenging time, but there are opportunities out there and the team at DWC are here to help.
Chief Executive I Development West Coast
West Coast Governance Programme.
Development West Coast is bringing governance training to the West Coast business community. The West Coast Governance Programme, facilitated by Westlake Governance, will commence in September 2020.
DWC chief executive Heath Milne says the programme will help participants understand the key roles and responsibilities of the board and individual directors.
The series of four one-day workshops is designed for new and aspiring board members, and for those who work directly with a board - whether in a medium-sized business, a national co-operative or a small community organisation, school Board of Trustees, or a local government body.
Buller Mayor, Jamie Cleine, graduated from the programme in 2018.
“Good governance is so critical to the success of the West Coast and the DWC governance training gives you a great foundation,” says Mayor Cleine.
“I encourage anyone considering governance roles at any level from sports clubs, school boards or even local government to complete the course You never stop learning and the course helped me identify a professional development pathway and to contribute much more effectively at a governance level.”
West Coast Employment and Training Initiatives.
There has never been a better time for businesses to take on apprentices or train existing staff, with a variety of support schemes running on the West Coast.
Upskill West Coast / DWC
The focus is on the provision of a range of different employment and training support services, support for local businesses, and people seeking long term employment opportunities.
Mana in Mahi / MSD
Mana in Mahi can be used to help both young people starting out and people who want to develop or change their career.
Māori Trades and Training Fund / MBIE
The Māori Trades and Training Fund (MTTF) will support community-led employment and training programmes through partnerships between Māori and the Crown that empower solutions by Māori, for Māori.
The Regional Apprenticeships Initiative / MBIE
The initial focus will be on helping recently displaced workers into apprenticeships. Once that initial need has been met, the fund will be open to all regional apprentices and employers.
Apprenticeship Boost / MSD
Apprenticeship Boost aims to provide support for employers to retain and take on new apprentices as the economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, so they can continue to earn and progress towards their qualifications.
Coast Connect Employment and Careers Hub / TPP
Coast Connect creates opportunities for Coasters to connect, create relationships and find jobs. Coast Connect works with job seekers, students, local businesses, training providers and employers to create better outcomes for the West Coast.
Seven Sharp competition.
The Toe Toe family from Murupara won a West Coast getaway in Seven Sharp’s ‘Talk up your Town’ competition.
The competition, run in partnership with Development West Coast (DWC), asked viewers to send in videos talking up their towns.
The Toe Toe family’s video of Murupara won them an ultimate West Coast holiday package. The family of nine are currently travelling around the West Coast. Their West Coast adventure will be shown on Seven Sharp next week.
DWC Chief Executive Heath Milne met the family when they reached Greymouth.
“It was really good to meet Nadine and the rest of the family. Great people and a really deserving family,” says Mr Milne.
“We thank all the tourism operators who have gone out of their way to help put together such an amazing prize package.
“A special thanks also to Westport boy Phoenix Putaura who, along with Daimon Schwalger, produced a brilliant video promoting Westport to the rest of the Country.
“In recognition of Phoenix’s great work as an ambassador for the Coast, he’ll be joining the Toe Toe family during their day in Hokitika.
“If you bump into Nadine and the rest of the family during their travels don’t be shy to say hi and show them some West Coast hospitality.”
Seven Sharp segment on the Toe Toe Family: video
Seven Sharp video of Phoenix and Westport: video
DWC’s Co.Starters business start-up and development programme is set to begin in Greymouth on 22 September.
The 9 week course is designed to help you find the best approach to starting and growing a business and collaborate with others who share your entrepreneurial spirit as you work through your business model.
Kate Duthie from Grounded Garden Services attended the programme in Greymouth saying: “I found Co.Starters to be incredibly helpful and encouraging. I was challenged with questions and discussion which enabled me to look at my business ideas from different angles.”
Miriam Rees from Blue Spur Milk & Honey also attended the course. “Every week at Co.Starters there is a guest speaker: local entrepreneurs, accountants and lawyers. It’s fantastic to see the local community getting behind the course, spreading their knowledge and sharing their inspiring stories,” she says.
If you would like to start your own business, develop your existing business, or explore and develop an idea or project then the Co.Starters programme is for you.
2019 CO.STARTERS particpants on celebration night.