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Wellington Business Supports Economic Strategy-Warns of Cost

8 December 2011

Wellington Business Supports Economic Strategy but Warns against Cost

The Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce has welcomed Wellington City Council’s Draft Economic Development Strategy but cautioned that significant rationalisation of spending and funding will be required if it is to be affordable. The chamber made the comments as part of its oral presentation to councillors today.

“The Draft Economic Development Strategy is an excellent summary of the issues currently facing Wellington and the things that need to be done to move the city forward,” Chamber Chief Executive Ken Harris told the council.

“But a reallocation of existing funds rather than rate increases will be necessary to fund many of the proposals. It is essential that the council does not load any more costs on to the business community.

“The Employers’ Chamber is very pleased direct flights to Asia are a priority in the strategy. We support a Long Haul Attraction Fund to secure such flights but contributions to the fund should come from a number of sources and not from business rates alone.

“It is also essential that the fund only be accessed if a carrier commits to the route for a certain period. It must not be just a marketing fund.

“We support broadening Wellington’s destination marketing approach to attract business and investment. Attracting and retaining businesses as well as government will be key to Wellington’s future.

“We also strongly support the attraction of more international students to Wellington. Wellington is clearly under-represented when it comes to international student numbers.

“However, these proposals will all cost money and coming on top of the council’s leaky homes and earthquake strengthening liabilities, a major review of council spending will be required if they are to be affordable.

“It is imperative that the council reprioritises its expenditure away from lower quality programmes.

“Developing a business friendly culture within the council is also essential,” Mr Harris concluded.

ENDS

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