This is my last column as Chair of Development West Coast. I have enjoyed this role immensely over the past seven years and will be leaving with some degree of sadness.

Since its inception DWC has worked hard to invest the original Government adjustment package of $92m into the region, and there have been many successes of which I am proud to have been part of at DWC.

We have acted prudently to maintain income on investments to ensure we can continue to make distributions into the region. That fund now stands at over $118m equity with total assets of $129m. This should signal to business owners and industry across the West Coast that there is significant support at hand to help this region grow. However all applications must first meet the objects of DWC’s Deed of Trust.

In my time as Chair, DWC has continued to assist a range of community projects, with over $60m having been invested into the community for projects and facilities since 2001. The range is as diverse as the West Coast itself, and recipients have included the two West Coast cycleways, improvements to the Hokitika RSA, Hari Hari and Fox Glacier community halls, the Karamea Medical Association, resurfacing of the Greymouth netball courts, Westport Solid Energy Centre, Westland Recreation Centre, and funding for the Computers in Schools project, plus many other projects, including bulk funding for the West Coast Community Trust and Amateur Sports Trust.

Businesses and industry have also been recipients of solid financial assistance over the past seven years. DWC has processed around 300 commercial funding requests since 2001 which amounted to over $290m. Of those applications, 137 distributions have been made, seeing a healthy injection of $84m supporting business and industry growth. The application process also requires a due diligence process to enable a check to ensure the dreams of applicants don’t become nightmares. It is not DWC’s role to assist businesses that are not economically viable or sustainable.

The 2015 loan to Sounds Air to purchase an aircraft, ensuring the critical air link between Westport and Wellington remained, was one of the many bold moves DWC was able to take during my tenure, and one which has proven to deliver wide-ranging benefits. But even more significant was the establishment of our Business and Industry Stimulus Fund (BISF) and District Economic Stimulus Fund (DESF). Together, these funding mechanisms provided an opportunity for almost anyone to take advantage of, whether their business be small or large, brand new or decades old. The BISF saw a fund of $5 million available across the region for projects that aimed to create direct employment, along with a one-off fund of $1 million to each of the District Councils to direct funds into eligible projects within their districts.

DWC’s varied funding and support systems have enabled DWC to reach every corner of our region looking to assist businesses and organisations who so wished. Business mentoring, one of our business support services, is a unique business resource which has helped and supported many West Coasters to increase their own skills and business acumen levels. Sixty people have also now graduated from the West Coast Leadership & Governance Programme. This programme is in its 6th year of growing the confidence and leadership skills of West Coasters wanting to contribute to and serve their communities.

The findings of the recent West Coast Growth Study will help to shape a new direction for the region, but the key aim will stay the same – ensuring economic growth for businesses and industry in this region for the benefit of all. It is important for the whole region to share the load – not just DWC.

The West Coast has a range of diverse and exciting businesses that make up its fabric and with the support of DWC they can find ways to develop and grow even further. I look forward to watching their progress and inevitable successes.
Lastly, I want to thank the Trustees, management and staff of DWC who I have enjoyed working with over the past seven years. I wish you all the very best for the future.

John Sturgeon


After extensive work with Air NZ, Tourism NZ and consultation with in excess of 100 people from Karamea to Haast, the new branding “Untamed Natural Wilderness” was born. The brand is a collection of experiences that create an image of the West Coast in the minds of our stakeholders.

An important part of creating a strong brand resides in the name, logo, advertising and communication. Every experience contributes to this impression. Therefore we all have an important role in managing and implementing our brand and building the reputation of the West Coast domestically and internationally.

Local business owners are also picking up on being able to use the branding to add to their own branding, help build an awareness of the West Coast and what it stands for. One of the first to do this was Andrew Havill of Aratuna Freighters Ltd who has enthusiastically endorsed the branding by applying the signage and logo to his trucks that traverse the east and west coasts of the South Island.

Brand resources are now available to download from the Tourism West Coast website: If your business wants to learn more about how the brand can be used please give Kelly McLeod a call at Tourism West Coast 03 768 6633 or email her on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We all have an important role in managing and implementing our brand and building the reputation of the West Coast domestically and internationally.


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The Business and Industry Stimulus Fund (BISF) launched in October 2015 has been successful in assisting new and existing businesses.

The fund was established to stimulate industry and business development, with a particular focus on proposals that would result in the creation of new jobs and retention of existing jobs.

DWC has fielded over 70 enquiries from businesses and individuals since the launch of the BISF. It has advanced over $2.2 million to 11 businesses with the hope of creating 17 new jobs and helping to retain a further 30 jobs within the region.

The concept behind the BISF was to promote the services of DWC to the West Coast business sector with the aim of encouraging businesses to approach DWC to see if it could assist, particularly if they had identified opportunities for growth or were a good business that just needed some assistance to get them through a difficult period. While the period for applications to the BISF closed on 30 June 2016, DWC does not see itself changing how it operates while the West Coast economy is still very much in a recovery phase.

DWC encourages anyone in business, or who wishes to enter business to contact it to see if there is an opportunity for it to assist them. While commercial lending is one aspect of assistance that can be provided, DWC can also offer assistance with business mentoring, business training or  potentially linkages to people in the same industry or sector that may be able to offer insight or ideas.

We encourage any potential, new or existing business to contact DWC to find out what support DWC can offer, so please call 0800 768 0140 as a first step. We know we can’t help everyone, but we don’t know who we can help if they don’t come forward to tell us about their plans, problems or ideas.

One of the key support functions offered by DWC are loans which have helped many small businesses get a head start.

One of those businesses is West Coast Rewards, a unique marketing service that utilises the collective appeal of local businesses.

Its founder, Rachelle Hicks, took up a micro-loan from DWC to get started. She wanted to create a platform for local businesses to promote themselves while attracting and rewarding customers through a loyalty system.
“The aim of West Coast Rewards is to offer local businesses an advertising option which provides affordable, collaborative marketing through print, radio and social media,” Rachelle explains. “It also gives businesses a way of rewarding their loyal customers & clients, which can assist in creating repeat sales and attracting new customers.”

Rachelle says the benefits of being a member are many, but her motivation is to lessen the confusion for businesses that are trying to find the best way to spend their often limited marketing budgets.

Growing up locally and with a background in retail and hospitality, Rachelle understands the unique market and business environment of the West Coast. “I really wanted to provide an affordable option for businesses looking to get best value out of their marketing money by providing promotion through various platforms, as well as being able to offer my clients exclusive advertising & marketing deals from other West Coast suppliers,” Rachelle says.

She was pleased to have had the option of a micro loan from DWC when she was starting out as it enabled her to launch the website, “DWC have also taken time to meet with me on many occasions and given me advice and support over the last couple of years, which is always useful.”

She says she would recommend the services DWC provides to anyone who is reaching for a new goal in business.

Development West Coast was pleased to host two events on Thursday 8 December 2016 in Greymouth and Westport with guest speaker, Graeme Wheeler, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

Over 120 people attended the Greymouth event at Shantytown and a further 25 at the EPIC Centre in Westport to hear Mr Wheeler give an insight into the Reserve Bank’s current view on New Zealand’s economic position and how that sits in the global context, followed by a Q&A session.

Particularly interesting for the guests was Mr Wheeler’s explanations on the various financial cycles that the New Zealand economy has gone through, from the oil crisis in the 70’s to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Mr Wheeler also discussed the rationale behind the bank’s move on the housing market.

As Governor, this is Mr Wheeler’s second visit to the West Coast where he has provided valuable insights and information about the direction of the national economy, and how the West Coast’s industry contributes to that. In 2015, Mr Wheeler was unable to visit the West Coast and was replaced by the Deputy Governor, Mr Grant Spencer.

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Reserve Bank Governor, Graeme Wheeler with DWC Chair
John Sturgeon and CEO Chris Mackenzie.