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.
Chief executive | Development West Coast
Click the image above to view the Economic Update.