Now Open website

COVID-19 Alert Level 3 business directory

 

As the country continues to rally together to stop the spread of COVID-19, a new online resource has
been developed to help West Coasters shop safely and support local businesses.

A collaboration between EPIC Westport, Development West Coast (DWC) and Tai Poutini Polytechnic
(TPP) has led to the development of www.NowOpen.co.nz, an online business directory and app
championing West Coast businesses operating during COVID-19 Alert Level 3. EPIC Westport
developed this site under its digital hub program funded by the Provincial Growth Fund.

The directory of more than 200 West Coast businesses will go live on Tuesday morning with the aim
of letting the public know which businesses will be open for delivery and contactless pickups and
other safe services. EPIC Westport will release the companion app shortly after.

“COVID-19 is bringing a lot of changes to our lives. It’s also highlighting what is important. Our local
communities, our small businesses, our community organisations have responded and adapted to
meet this challenge,” says Natasha Barnes Dellaca CEO of innovation hub EPIC Westport.

“We wanted to support these efforts by creating a directory to show who is open and remind
ourselves of the great things we can access on the West Coast, lockdown or not.”

“These new online services will support our older and vulnerable community members over the long
term too, and that’s what the whole country is working to achieve. It’s great to be a small part of it.”

Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne says the lockdown has been a difficult time for
the business community with half the West Coast workforce unable to operate in any capacity.

“The Government’s wage subsidies have been a lifesaver for many businesses, but at the end of the
day it’s not the same as making sales to your customers. With the shift to Level 3 many of our
businesses can, in a contactless manner, get back to trading and doing what they’re best at.

“This new platform will ensure their customers know they’re back in business.

TPP Leader – Engagement Mequa Hourston encouraged the public to make the most of the online directory and shop locally.

“We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of living and working over the past four weeks and we know it has been a huge challenge for local businesses. As one of the West Coast’s largest employers, TPP wanted to support this initiative to spur business activity and support the region’s economy.

“As we move to Level 3 we’ve got more options available for shopping and services – if we all do a little bit to support local business, then we’ll all do better in the long-term.”

Less than 24 hours after putting the idea of an online directory out to the public 85 local businesses
registered, with the total currently over 200 and growing.

“This has meant it has been all hands-on deck. With support from DWC and TPP staff we’ve spent
the long weekend working remotely against the clock,” says Natasha Barnes Dellaca.

“The website and app were pulled together quickly using free to access online templates and a little
elbow grease. That meant we could launch it on time, and it also meant we could do it without
charge for West Coast businesses.”

Heath Milne says this project has been a true testament to collaboration – Coasters working
together to support each other.

“We’ve been blown away by the response from local businesses and are really impressed that EPIC
have been able to get the platform up and running in the space of a few days.

“We can all do our part to support local businesses and help them keep their doors open by
shopping locally, but with the current situation it can be difficult to know which businesses are
operating.”

“That’s where www.NowOpen.co.nz comes in.”

Natasha Barnes Dellaca EPIC Westport