Community comment - Renee Rooney (March 2022)

29 March 2022
Renee Rooney
Sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. A feeling I can get at times when I see 500 friendly cows looking at me while waiting patiently in the yard ready for daily milkings!

It’s also a feeling many of us have probably felt over the past two years as we’ve been faced with the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic impacting us on a daily basis. But with recent news of further easing of restrictions and April 4 in sight, that wood is becoming easier to see.

This recent announcement is great news for the Coast, and means more of us can be together to attend entertainment, fundraising and sports events, celebrations and so much more. Having some sense of normality back will be warmly welcomed.

Over the last two years, saying it’s been tough is an understatement. There have been hard decisions that have had to be made at a personal, household, business and community level. There has been massive disruption. Through this Coasters have constantly adapted to change, and there have been many positive ideas come to light and solutions found to try and cushion the blow.

Technology advances have brought about a new way of not only working, learning and online shopping, but also celebrating success! It was fantastic to recently tune in to the live streaming of the West Coast Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards evening held at Shantytown and enjoy this special occasion, virtually!

During the pandemic, investment into the Region has still happened and we’ve seen large infrastructure projects underway or completed, the housing market skyrocketed and new developments earmarked, many visitors have been welcomed to the Region, and the dairy sector is currently riding a milk-wave of record prices.

Of course, there can be a negative flip side to the positive including cost of living, goods or manufacturing supply chain issues, worker shortages and housing shortages. And as the international borders open up we will once again see Kiwi’s leave our shores for employment opportunities overseas. But we will in-turn welcome international visitors and migrant workers back.

At DWC we continue to focus on Growing Business to Grow the Coast. We know a thriving business community contributes to an overall thriving community and region. DWC makes investment to support strategic and long-term needs of the region, and also responds to meet immediate needs. Some recent examples include the inaugural tertiary scholarships launched late last year; an investment partnership with Abbeyfield NZ and Grey District Council in a shared housing facility for senior citizens; and increased financial distribution to the West Coast Community Trust, support packages to the Buller District following flooding, and the Glacier Country area following international border closures.

Last month was the launch of Te Whanaketanga Te Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Strategy 2050. DWC was privileged to be able to facilitate this on behalf of the region. Over 150 people from across the Coast participated in workshops, and many others provided input to shape a strategy that sets out a shared vision for improving the lives of all Coasters. The pathway forward over the next 30 years is full of opportunities.

Renee Rooney | DWC Chair

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