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Marlborough’s Economic Recovery From COVID-19 Gears Up

The new group to lead Marlborough’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis has been formed, held its first meeting (via Zoom) and started work.

The Economic Action Marlborough (TEAM) group has brought together Council and representatives from the wine, aquaculture, forestry, tourism and farming sectors, as well as a mandated iwi representative, Port Marlborough, Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Social Development.

Deputy Mayor Nadine Taylor is chairing the TEAM group.

“Council is designated as the regional lead during emergencies and COVID-19 is the biggest challenge Marlborough has faced in our lifetimes. We’ve already announced Council itself will spend over $60 million of capital expenditure in 2020-21 and similar spending over each of the next three years.”

Given the impacts of COVID-19 on many Marlborough businesses, Council’s role extended to supporting a wider recovery, working with key sectors and agencies.

“Staff worked over the Easter break to bring together the TEAM group and provide the background papers. We’ve got a very strong group now underway on helping steer our region through the economic impacts the virus is creating.”

The TEAM group looked at four phases for recovery from the current Respond phase dealing with the immediate lockdown issues, moving to a Resilience phase where maintaining cashflow and jobs are the focus, to a Return phase where capacity and scale are rebuilt, and a final Reimagination phase where a new normal was developed.

An initial economic recovery plan will be brought together by the TEAM group over the next month, with a second plan covering later phases due in August.

“We are taking particular note as we start our work on the impact of COVID-19 on our tourism and hospitality sectors,” says Cr. Taylor.

To support the planning, the group backed Council contracting the Infometrics economic consulting agency to provide an initial view of the impact of COVID-19 on Marlborough industry sectors and businesses. Ongoing information on how local businesses are faring will continue to be provided by the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and Business Trust Marlborough.

Cr Mark Peters’ told the group he was today bringing together a meeting of some Marlborough accountants and lawyers who are prepared to provide advice and insight on business responses to COVID-19 across the region.

“The information from all these sources which now includes that welcome input from accountants and lawyers will help build a quality picture very quickly of what we are dealing with and allow us to accurately target our recovery efforts,” says Cr Taylor.

Yesterday’s first TEAM group meeting included an update from MSD Regional Commissioner Craig Churchill who says further Government support programmes would likely focus on projects that are ready to go and creating jobs while navigating through the likely impacts of COVID-19. This could include projects that expanded social housing.

Cr Taylor says some of Marlborough’s economic activity stretches across into Nelson/Tasman region in areas such as forestry and aquaculture, so some of the responses emerging from the TEAM group will need to align across the top of the South.

“We are also conscious of the work Council has been supporting with the Te Tau Ihu Intergenerational Strategy and see that particularly being reflected as we enter our Reimagination phase.”

Cr Taylor says while the TEAM group represents a good cross section, it cannot include all sectors and will be supported in its work by an Industry Advisory COVID-19 group, to be chaired by Cr. Gerald Hope. This will pick up and develop the work done to date by the initial COVID-19 group chaired by the Mayor.

John Leggett sat in on yesterday’s first TEAM group meeting.

“We all know we face some major challenges ahead and it is really encouraging to see such a good group has been pulled together so quickly to give direction and support to our business sectors. We’ve all got to get behind this initiative to keep Marlborough moving.”

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