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.