DWC Annual Report 2019: Chair's Report
This year Development West Coast (DWC) has challenged itself to be a more customer-focused organisation. This has resulted in greater engagement with local businesses. Our core values of accountability and transparency drive our commitment to better communicate the stories behind the numbers and the work we do, so it gives me great pleasure to present our Annual Report for the year ended 31 March 2019.
It has been a year of change as we transition DWC into a wider economic development role. We are here to help grow businesses. We are listening to their needs and working with them to overcome the barriers they face in their day-to-day operations.
DWC Trustees are always mindful of the balance required to meet both current demands and the needs of future generations. This year the Trustees have put particular emphasis on maintaining the real value of the Investment Fund from which we derive the income that we can distribute locally. At present, for every $25m that DWC has in its fund, it can sustainably spend $1m in the region.
Running the Fund down or even conserving it at the current level means there will be less money to invest in the region in the future. As an example, today's $128.4m equity would need to be $184m in 2037 to generate the same benefits as in 2001 (assuming the inflation rate is replicated).
Despite the best efforts of our resourceful people, the last five years has seen the West Coast in a major economic downturn. DWC’s recently published Economic Update indicates the economy is finally showing signs of recovery. While Buller is still recovering, the Westland and Grey districts appear to be on track to meet most of their targets set in the Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Strategy (2018-2025).
While it is heartening to see some positive trends emerging within our economy, we cannot become complacent. There will inevitably be further challenges ahead and we must meet these with a unified voice and work together to find effective outcomes for all involved.
Under the Regional Economic Development Strategy, which builds on the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan, DWC has been tasked with leading the region’s economic direction and development. To ensure a coordinated approach, there has been a restructuring to the provision of regional economic development on the West Coast. It has taken time to put these changes in place, but we believe they will enable the region to work together in a more unified manner on regional development. This will ultimately present new opportunities for the Coast.
Meanwhile, the Government has acknowledged the opportunities present in regional New Zealand with the creation of the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). Through working together, the West Coast has to date secured $130.5m in PGF funding for projects. It is great to see these investments are not only playing to our historic strengths but also looking to the future by supporting our emerging industries.
This Annual Report highlights some of the ways we work with businesses and industries to strengthen the economy and create thriving communities across our region. We must stress that these achievements do not happen in isolation. From the business leaders who give their time to present inspirational talks at networking events, to the business mentors who volunteer to help local entrepreneurs, many people must be thanked for the invaluable support they give DWC in achieving its objects.
Thanks must also be given to the West Coast councils who we work with on many projects. DWC's investment into community distributions and projects reached $64.8m this year. This includes $20.1m committed to the three West Coast district councils through to 2022 via the Major District Initiative Fund (MDI), and a one-off $6m Extraordinary Distribution Fund (EDF) also allocated across the councils.
This year has seen many Coast businesses succeeding on the national and international stage with the media spotlight shining brightly on their achievements. At DWC we provided a platform for the region to come together to celebrate success by holding the 6th Development West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards. This was a fantastic evening showcasing the finalists and the stories behind their businesses.
This Annual Report aims to tell our DWC story, of what we do and how we do it. We have included some first-hand stories from our fast growing client base, which has doubled over the past year. We acknowledge that actions speak louder than words and that we are accountable to our West Coast community. With a unified vision and strategy in place for the region, we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help grow businesses to grow the Coast.
I would like to sincerely thank my fellow Trustees for their support and contribution during the year, Advisory Body for their sound professional and independent advice, chief executive Chris Mackenzie for his leadership and the DWC staff for their ongoing hard work and unwavering commitment to the organisation and the West Coast region.
Download the full Annual Report (PDF 5MB)
What our clients are saying:
“DWC’s support has been a game changer for me. They have given me confidence to execute my business strategy because they believe in what I am doing. This is really important because being in business can be challenging so the objective and knowledgeable expertise they offer is invaluable.” Emily Miazga, Em's Power Cookies
“So many people don’t realise what support is available for businesses here on the Coast. We highly recommend other local businesses take advantage of the many forms of assistance available through DWC. We’ve always had amazing communication and support when dealing with them.” Moreen Evans, Jeff Evans Ltd.
“Bouncing my thoughts off experienced advisors and hearing their input was extremely helpful. An informed outside perspective is invaluable to me as a small business owner." Jase Blair, Printing.com West Coast
“We found the DWC staff to be knowledgable and helpful and very keen to keep our entire operation on the West Coast.” Lewis Simpkin, Westland Workgear
"Having support from DWC has allowed us to grow our business and create new jobs in the area." Nevelle Thomson, Thomsons Butchery.