‘Oamaru struggling to understand Gigatown’

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Many Oamaru people are struggling to get their heads around Gigatown, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher told yesterday’s council meeting.

“I understand that, but there are various aspects to it. First and foremost, this project is built around social media. The benefits of taking part are that people are connecting online and businesses are waking up to being out there.”

Mr Kircher, who is also chair of the Gigatown organising committee, said there could be many e-commerce benefits for the town and district.

“The prize is well worth winning; it will create opportunities. Some businesses will take advantage of it and others will move here because we’ve got the prize.

“If we win, we’ll have the publicity of being the fastest town in the Southern Hemisphere.”

He said if Oamaru won, software development and data storage companies could relocate to the town.

Council was debating a staff recommendation that $10,000 be spent from this year’s budget on Gigatown and that a further $20,000 should be included in the 2014/15 annual plan.

Cr Hugh Perkins was opposed to $10,000 being made available this financial year.

“I’m a paid up Luddite; a lot will come from the work currently being done. My other concern is that this is an advertising thing for Chorus but we’re being asked to chuck money at them with little accountability.”

Crs Melanie Tavendale, Sharyn Price and Sally Hope expressed concerns about the lack of information as to where the money would be spent.

“I struggle with no real figures in front of us,” Cr Tavendale said.

Cr Peter Garvan supported the recommendations.

“A lot of people have put in a lot of work already and costs have already been incurred,” he said.

Cr Jim Hopkins said the matter was an economic development issue and there was the possibility of a potential reward for the district.

“Gigatown gives us a chance to be New Zealand’s sharpest town on steroids.”

He said he was aware the mayor was chairman of the Gigatown organising committee but he was sure he would act prudently on the matter.

The council approved the recommendations while Cr Perkins voted against.

By CHRIS TOBIN