In times of change, we must invest in the future

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Through great change comes great opportunity, and choosing to focus attention on the potential gives a sense of positivity in such a chaotic and uncertain time.

Collaboration between businesses, the sharing of skills and the kindness and support shown during this time means we now have a stronger, more robust business community that wants to work together for the greater good.

If we thought supporting local was important before, it is critical now. With a limited population base, every dollar spent here is important. Local business owners will be relying on community support and they are working hard to ensure their offering is better than before.

As a community, we need to invest in our region. It is time to enhance our incredible built environment through a town plan that both preserves and beautifies. Discussions started last year have now become more relevant as, going forward, we will be competing for the domestic visitor dollar.

Overseas, there are already strong examples of what a new town environment could look like. More green spaces, more cycling and walking tracks, wider walkways, a place that is compassionate to social distancing and also encourages people to visit and stay longer.

This plan starts with a vision, and what we as business and community leaders can conceptualise as the future for our town. We need a regional brand that sets us apart and unites us all. Investing in brand strategy for the district is fundamental to our future success.

We need to build on our key attributes, including our townscape, environment, buildings and the precinct. Developing a funding model to complete this work without putting additional stress on building owners and tenants is fundamental to this.

Health and recreation will continue to be an important aspect in our lives; the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail is the perfect vehicle to attract domestic visitors to our region. A focus on our wide-open spaces, lakes, mountains and stunning coastline.

We need strong and collaborative leadership to support this period of change. We need to lean on the people who have the skills to contribute and work together.

Waitaki can rise above and be the shining light if we develop a plan and make significant investment in the right areas now.

  • Annabel Berry owns Design Federation and is the founder of the Oamaru Business Collective.