From the desk of Helen Wilson - Research and Innovation Manager
Amongst economic development professionals it is accepted that the most successful projects take time to realise measurable benefits. Sixteen years ago, DWC in its very early years became a financial supporter of one such project.
The ‘Reefton Shop Front’ project had its beginnings in 2003 when a delegation from Inangahua Tourism Promotions (ITP) in Reefton came to the then West Coast Development Trust with a proposal to 'do-up' some of the shop fronts in Reefton’s main street, Broadway, to make the town more attractive to, and I quote, “shoppers and stoppers”.
The vision that the then ITP group had when they brought their proposal to the Trustees of the time was gutsy and for the long-term. DWC provided a commercial loan to ITP, who were then able to on lend to shop owners at very reasonable rates, enabling the business owners to renovate their shop fronts in a heritage style. Broadway and Reefton at large as we know it today began its revival.
While only a few took part in the first phase, it very much set the scene for more developments to follow. Other phases enabled more to come on board and some owners wanting to contribute to the town’s revitalisation took their own initiatives to upgrade their buildings. In essence the project was transformational in taking the town forward for long-term sustainability.
Sixteen years down the track and the benefits are evident for both the community and visitors to the town. It was an early economic development project that DWC is proud to have supported.
On re-reading the original application it was interesting to note a quote in support from the well-known international community development leader, Peter Kenyon.
“Nowadays towns are really not so different from businesses, they need to keep recreating themselves. The successful towns are likely to be driven by people who are passionate and creative, who see an opportunity and go for it. Some have it, some don’t. Reefton has it!”
Development West Coast (DWC) chair Renee Rooney is pleased to announce DWC have secured major naming rights for the DWC Westland Sports Hub.
“The West Coast has a rich history of sporting success, but the importance of sport to our regiongoes far deeper than these achievements. Sport has long brought Coasters together, helping buildthriving communities across our region,” says Mrs Rooney.
“Development West Coast is proud to partner with the Westland Sports Hub to support the majorupgrade of sporting facilities in Hokitika. It will be a big game changer for Westland, benefiting most sporting codes, while importantly providing a venue to bring our communities closer together.”
Development West Coast, through the Westland District Council, has allocated $1.5 million MDI funding for this project.
Westland High School Board Chair, Latham Martin said: “We have negotiated a further financial contribution from Development West Coast to accompany the naming rights. This will help with anyother operational costs, including maintenance and administration of the facility.”
Fundraising Chair, Ange Keenan said that the fundraising efforts for the facility were still underway,and further naming sponsors were being sought for the facility.
“We are in the process of looking for naming sponsors for the courts and gymnasium, as well as individuals to sponsor the DWC Westland Sports Hub. We have plenty of sponsorship options for you, your family or your business to support this forward-thinking community project.”
Development West Coast Trustees have recently approved the marketing and operational budget for DWC’s new tourism function for the coming year. For a more co-ordinated delivery of regional economic development, the tourism promotion and marketing functions of Tourism West Coast (TWC) migrated into DWC on 1 April.
DWC chief executive Chris Mackenzie says the recently approved budget will ensure the three tourism staff can continue their fantastic work promoting the West Coast as part of the DWC team.
“In their new roles at DWC, regional tourism manager Jim Little, tourism marketing manager Samantha Beneke and tourism marketing assistant Alicia Ulrich are continuing to do what they do best - promoting the region. They have just been at the annual TRENZ event proudly waving the West Coast flag, and then hit the road showing travel agents and journalists around the Coast."
Two months in, and the advantages of this more co-ordinated approach to regional development are already evident.
“Having tourism promotion undertaken from within DWC is presenting greater opportunities to work and share information across other sectors to maximise the full potential of the West Coast as a great place to live, work, invest and visit,” says Mr Mackenzie.
DWC's regional tourism manager in China meeting travel agents.
Jim Little is currently in China where he attended an event at the Beijing Embassy with tourism minister Hon Kelvin Davis, CEO of Tourism New Zealand Stephen England-Hall, chair of Tourism New Zealand Jamie Tuuta and Rebecca Huang the general manager of China Southern Airlines.
Mr Little has given a presentation showcasing the West Coast to around 200 travel agents at the Beijing Westin Hotel. He will now travel with Christchurch Airport and China Southern Airlines to Shanghai and Guangzhou where he will present to an estimated 720 travel agents and airline sales staff.
Mr Little is armed with a presentation, translated into simplified Chinese, and a translated West Coast activity guide for agents.
The Chinese market is New Zealand's second-largest visitor market and most valuable in terms of holiday visitor spend. From May 2018 to April 2019, Chinese visitors spent $1,744 million in New Zealand, with $22 million spent on the West Coast. The spend on the West Coast was down during this period due to the loss of the Waiho bridge.