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QLDC Economic Diversification Activity To Strengthen With Government Fund

The recently announced $20 million government investment in economic diversification for the Queenstown Lakes District will help amplify extensive local work already underway, Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC)’s Economic Development Unit (EDU) has said.

The announcement coincides with the EDU releasing its draft diversification framework, which is designed to align current and future projects driven by local business leaders and entrepreneurs.

The framework will eventually form part of a district-wide diversification plan.

The framework [diagram attached], explains how start-ups and existing businesses relate with, and connect to, larger industries and corporates within the local economic diversification ecosystem.

QLDC Economic Development Manager Peter Harris said the framework would help guide government and private investment, and aimed to spread investment across multiple sectors, driving towards a more sustainable and resilient local economy.

“The diversification framework includes supporting existing initiatives and attracting new entrepreneurs and businesses to move to the district,” Mr. Harris said.

“The most proven pathway is to build upon what you have. Film and software for tourism and hospitality are two existing strengths, while our start-up community is also flourishing. As such, it makes sense to foster these,” he said.

The EDU presented the draft framework to officials from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, as well as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, in Queenstown on Tuesday.

“Research shows that relying on one project to diversify an economy comes at a high risk, and that government investment would have the most positive effect by being spread over a number of themes,” Mr Harris said.

Over the past 12 months the EDU has seen individuals with both national and international private sector experience come forward with ideas, and there are several projects already underway. These include a food export business, a fintech exporter, a gaming tech start-up and a hospo-tech collaboration.

The $20 million fund, which is likely to be administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), may go towards underwriting infrastructure as well as supporting economic diversification projects already underway. Ultimately, the EDU’s focus is on developing low-carbon, non-extractive industries and regenerative initiatives that will create high value jobs for locals.

Since the EDU formed in 2019, QLDC has been supporting and investing in diversification, with more recent activities including creating an in-house film office, and assisting Startup Queenstown Lakes and locally organised events. However, with a rise in private sector leaders proposing solutions and the $20 million Government commitment, the EDU’s efforts will be amplified.

“The passion of some business leaders, who have stepped up in a time of crisis and are putting their own time and money into projects, is inspiring,” Mr Harris said.

“Our work, the commitment from the business leaders and the significant investment from government offers a unique prospect to foster new opportunities that are not only good for our local and national economy, but also for the people of the district and the local environment.”

The EDU will soon share its plans for attracting team builders to the district, in order to ultimately help employ more locals.

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