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West Coast Economic Development Review

West Coast Economic Development Review

Over the last three years the economic development roles of Councils, Venture West Coast and the West Coast Development Trust have been carefully planned and co-ordinated to achieve the Regional Economic Development Plan objectives and to limit any duplication or overlaps in functions and services.

Venture West Coast and Councils concentrate on District and Regional infrastructure development and advocacy and the Development Trust focuses on industry groups, business investment, business and sector support, education and training initiatives, community development and regional promotion.

The West Coast Development Trust has recently been requested by Councils to undertake a full review of Economic Development in the West Coast Region.

The Trust has advised the Councils that it is prepared to undertake the review, but only after Councils have completed their Long Term Community Plans and finalised their stance and commitment to areas such as Economic Development Officers, Tourism West Coast contributions, Venture West Coast contributions, local promotion and industry groups.

Once the Trust understands Councils’ ongoing commitment to these areas, it will undertake discussions with other funders such as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and undertake a regional review.

In the meantime, the Trust has made submissions to Councils encouraging them to continue to support ongoing Economic Development initiatives at existing levels to help underpin our regional growth.

The Trust believes there are two feasible approaches:

1. The first alternative is for the Councils to ensure continuation of key initiatives within their new community plans.

The Trust proposes that Councils should review the achievements of their Economic Development Units and Programmes and identify initiatives which have been successful and those with a positive economic benefit.

These initiatives should receive ongoing support from the Councils (ie, they should not throw the baby out with the bath water). For instance, some economic development programmes of a Regional significance currently underway include:

the Employment Action Group Recruit West Coast Telecommunications Taskforce Minerals West Coast Tourism West Coast Coastwide Growers’ Association Education West Coast Freight Transport Taskforce Regional Indicator Development

There are also many other local and district initiatives.

The Trust has indicated to Councils in submissions to their Long Term Community Plans that it will not accept cost shifting from Councils or Government, or substitute baseline funding for existing Economic Development initiatives from those quarters.

This approach is based on the Trust Deed prohibition from investing in projects which are part of the running, maintenance or upgrade of infrastructure that is normally the responsibility of Local or Central Government.

2. A second approach offered to Councils is that the Trust provide Economic Development functions for Districts under a service contract for a contracted sum.

Under this model, the Trust is prepared to undertake specific District related Economic Development roles on behalf of Councils in addition to its current Regional roles. The Trust still sees a need for a joint Council initiative to ensure adequate planning for Regional infrastructure. This type of planning is currently being undertaken by Venture West Coast in areas, such as our transport, telecommunication and energy requirements.

While the Trust acknowledges that it is up to each Council as to the type and amount of support that they will put into Economic Development in their Districts, it believes there needs to be ongoing and realistic contributions to this very important area which is a high priority in all Councils’ Community Plans and in recent Local Government Legislation.

The Trust believes that the achievements of Economic Development Officers and Agencies such as GROW, Venture West Coast, Tourism West Coast, Coastwide Growers and District promotion and business groups have assisted private enterprise to build the foundation of much of the success that the Region is currently enjoying.

M Trousselot Chief Executive Officer

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