2018/19 saw DWC transition into a wider economic development role following the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan, broadening its depth of business support and preparing for the migration of the functions of Tourism West Coast into DWC from 1 April 2019.

During the year, two additional Business Development Managers (BDM) were employed. Working alongside an existing BDM, they travel the length of the region to offer and provide support to our businesses, no matter what size or at what stage they may be at.

Over 1,100 people attended DWC’s events - double last year’s. We have also doubled to 140 the number of clients we are actively working with. 17 clients have been matched with business mentors.

DWC approved 80 percent of commercial finance applications received, with 13 approvals totalling $2.23m. A further $450,000 was invested in regional development projects and $230,000 in community funding. In addition, DWC continues to fund its other commitments, including the Major District Initiative projects of $1.2m per annum, and Extraordinary Distribution Fund.

DWC’s Investment Fund had a sound year. While financial markets were volatile, an overall return of 7 percent was achieved and we finished the year with equity of $128.4m. This has enabled DWC to meet its strategic goal of maintaining the real value of its fund during the year, albeit we still sit below the real value of the original $92m settlement.

While we recorded a surplus of $5.4m for the year, our advisors are signalling that the strong returns we have been benefiting from may be more difficult to achieve over the coming year. Volatility in the investment markets has already been prevalent in the new financial year. This is something we need to manage as we work to protect the fund to meet both current demands and the needs of future generations.

Download a copy of the 2019 Annual Report

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We are pleased to present this detailed Economic Update for Tai Poutini West Coast for the year to March 2018 and are particularly encouraged by the positive trends emerging within the region’s economic indicators.

As a region we may have less than one percent of New Zealand’s population, but that has never stopped Coasters punching above their weight. This is demonstrated by the West Coast’s rich history of pioneers leveraging the latest technologies to lead the way in New Zealand, from the goldmining and sawmilling days through to dairy farming and the current tourism growth.

Despite the efforts of our resourceful people, the region has been significantly impacted by external forces. Since 2012 the West Coast has been in the grip of an economic downturn due to the closure of Holcim and Oceania Gold, and changes in the coal mining industry and commodity prices that affect returns to the farming community. On top of this, the region’s economy has been impacted by a number of extreme weather events.

Between 2012 to 2017 this downturn saw the region lose over 1,500 jobs and GDP fall by almost 20 percent. The impact of such losses cannot be overstated for a small community like the West Coast.

Last year DWC conducted an extensive business opinion survey. The findings of the survey suggested the economy was starting to improve, with local businesses holding an overall confident view of the economy. The data in this Economic Update reveals their optimism was not mis-founded. After five years of decline there is a clear indication the economy is now on the road to recovery.

This update uses economic indicators from Infometrics and other government statistics to analyse the trends within the West Coast economy. The story revealed within the data shows some very promising signs for our region.

Last year DWC released the Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Strategy. It was developed in collaboration with the District Councils, Regional Council, Iwi, Tourism West Coast and the Department of Conservation. The strategy set ambitious targets for the region and districts to achieve by 2025.

Based on the findings in this Economic Update it appears we are heading in the right direction – with Westland and Grey on track to meet most of their targets, some by quite a margin. However, the West Coast Region is still being held back by the lag in Buller - the district most deeply affected by the downturn. Although it is encouraging to note the rates of decline in some of Buller’s key economic indicators are lessening, signalling possible improvements to come.

At DWC we are working hard to keep this positive momentum going by enabling the development of business and industry on the West Coast. Our business development managers are on the road from Karamea to Haast working with local businesses and working to attract investment opportunities to the region. Capabilities are being built through business trainings and workshops, and commercial finance is available to help local businesses grow. 

We are also working to enhance the profile and the visibility of the West Coast, letting the rest of New Zealand know just how wonderful the West Coast is as a place to live, work, play and invest.
Collaboration is the absolute key to ensure the region’s economic development goals are met, and we look forward to working with you to help enable the West Coast to become a thriving and prosperous region.

Chris Mackenzie
Chief executive | Development West Coast

2019 04 04 Econ Update cover

 Click the image above to view the Economic Update.

2019 07 23 West Coast Tourism Fact book

To view the fact book, follow this link.

DWC has invested in Infometrics to provide readily accessible economic data for the West Coast.

The Infometrics online profile is an interactive and dynamic tool enabling users to delve down into the underlying data and compare the West Coast region with other regions in New Zealand.

The tool contains a wealth of information on the economy, labour market, standard of living, exports, tourism, business, skills, productivity and population.

The web based data is available publicly, with a 24-page booklet able to be downloaded from the webpage.

Click on the buttons below to find out more:

BUTTON2015 Infometrics Econ Profile     BUTTON2015Infometrics Commun Profile

For more information on the Provincial Growth Fund click here.