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.