The Waitaki District Council’s draft economic development strategy proposes dissolving Tourism Waitaki and creating a new agency for economic development.
The draft strategy, which was led by Polis and developed with the engagement of Te Runanga o Moeraki and local stakeholders, will be presented to councillors at a meeting on June 7.
Council chief executive Alex Parmley said the strategy had ‘‘ambitious’’ targets, including growing the district’s economy by more than 8% above projected growth in the next 10 years. It also set out goals to improve the environmental, community and cultural wellbeing of the district.
As part of the strategy’s development, Polis reviewed current arrangements and made recommedations, including dissolving Tourism Waitaki and establishing aneconomic development agency which would be a council›controlled organisation, but operate at arm’s length. Representatives from the council, business community and Te Runanga o Moeraki would sit on the board.
Mr Parmley said the recommendation was ‘‘not a criticism’’ of Tourism Waitaki, it was about achieving the best sustainable and inclusive economic growth for the district. Tourism had an important part to play within the district’s economy, and there were opportunities in the draft strategy to grow it further, he said.
‘‘We don’t have limitless resources and so we need to ensure we get the most benefit from the resource we have for developing the local economy.’’
Polis suggested calling the new agency ‘‘Venture Waitaki’’, but more discussion would be required over a name, Mr Parmley said.
The overall strategy focuses on five key themes for economic growth: growing and diversifying land, farming and associated businesses in the context of growing environmental constraints and climate change; developing and attracting the skills Waitaki needs; supporting increased entrepreneurship, innovation, and productivity; using and improving Waitaki’s towns to attract more businesses and visitors; and developing more engaging experiences and capturing more value from visitors.
It aims to create between $70 million and $146 million additional GDP and 1350 more jobs in the district by 2032.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the review had been an opportunity for the council to make sure its investment in economic development delivered in more measurable ways.
‘‘We have targeted sustainable and inclusive growth — that is growth that will be environmentally sustainable and long lasting with the benefits of growth being felt by as many people as possible across the district.’’
If councillors approve the draft strategy on June 7, the council will re›engage with the business community and other stakeholders on the proposals and how they can best be implemented.
The Waitaki business community had contributed to the draft strategy’s development, but had not seen the final product, Mr Parmley said.
He expected that engagement process would take ‘‘a couple of months’’. Their feedback was important, and would be incorporated into the final strategy which would then go to councillors to approve and get implementation under way.