Economic development strategy adopted

A strategy aiming to boost the local economy has been adopted by the Waitaki District Council.

The five-year economic development strategy, ‘‘Uplifting Waitaki: Hapaitia te Waitaki’’, could raise the district’s economy by more than 8% above the projected growth in the next decade, the council said in a statement.

‘‘This would create between $70 [million] and $146 million additional GDP and 1350 additional jobs in the district.’’

The strategy also outlines how the district’s social, cultural, and environmental can be improved alongside its economy.

Uplifting Waitaki was co-designed with Te Runanga o Moeraki and the local business community with support from the Polis Consulting Group.

Participants agreed an Economic Development Agency should be set up as a council› controlled organisation, managed by a board of directors from business, the runanga and the council.

That structure would allow greater collaboration between the parties to produce measurable benefits and better value for ratepayers, the council’s statement said.

‘‘The strategy recognises that whilst council does have a role in facilitating and supporting economic growth, it is business that will generate the growth.’’

The strategy identifies five interconnected themes and work programmes: Land and Water, People Development, Place, Visitors, and Business Innovation and Growth.

‘‘The Waitaki Story will be developed as an overarching umbrella proposition for the district,’’ the council said.

‘‘A staged implementation is recommended, meaning while it will take longer to deliver results, we will continue to move forward as resources and funding are secured.’’

Polis recommended running the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony as a separate council› controlled organisation. That would be investigated, the council said.

Chief executive Alex Parmley said the strategy set out a partnership approach and arm’s›length governance to oversee the collaborative effort.

It targeted ‘‘sustainable and inclusive economic growth — that is growth that is environmentally sustainable and long lasting, and growth that most of the community can benefit from’’, Mr Parmley said.

Mayor Gary Kircher said the plan would help the council focus its spending to give measurable results.

Trevor McGlinchey, chairman of Te Runanga o Moeraki’s holding company, Moeraki Ltd, said the runanga was happy to have been part of the co-design and welcomed implementation of this strategy.

‘‘It recognises the importance of our Ngai Tahu cultural capital in the social and economic wellbeing of our communities.’’

Before adopting the strategy, councillors held a long debate about setting key performance indicators to measure it. They eventually the agreed the indicators would be added once the strategy was adopted.