DWC celebrates 20 years
DWC, formerly The West Coast Development Trust, was established in April 2001 after the then Labour-led government stopped native logging on Crown land. The Government provided a $120m package to assist the West Coast economy adjust to the loss of the indigenous logging industry.
DWC received $92m of that funding. The remaining $28m was divided equally between the three West Coast District Councils and the Regional Council.
Over the two decades since DWC’s establishment there have been three worldwide recessions (including the current pandemic), and the demise of a number of financial institutions, yet throughout this DWC has managed to retain the real value of the fund while continuing to invest in the region.
DWC’s direct investment into the economy has now reached $164.4m while maintaining the fund at $145.6m. This has all been achieved from an initial fund of $92m.
DWC is sometimes criticised for ‘growing’ the fund. The reality is running the fund down or even conserving it at the current level means there will be less money to invest in the region in the future.
It is important that we maintain the real value of the fund to ensure future generations on the Coast can benefit from continued distributions into the economy.
Investing in our businesses
Over the past twenty years DWC has provided commercial finance to 178 businesses on the West Coast – totaling $96.5m.
The true worth of DWC to the West Coast business community goes far beyond direct financial investments. DWC staff are working with a record number of businesses to help build capabilities and business opportunities.
Over the past year alone, DWC staff have engaged with around 500 local businesses. 523 vouchers have been allocated to businesses for business advisory services worth around $770k through the Regional Business Partner network. Businesses have also been matched with mentors, R&D support, and a range of other business support services.
DWC hosts regular business trainings and events. Holding these events not only helps build business capabilities but also provides invaluable opportunities for our business community to come together to network and share ideas. In a typical, non-pandemic year, over 1,000 people will attend DWC business events.
Since 2011, DWC has been running regular Leadership and Governance programmes to grow and support the talent pool on the West Coast. Around 100 people have graduated from these programmes, including Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine and DWC’s own Chair Renee Rooney.
To celebrate the success and achievements of our business community, DWC has held the West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards since 2011.
For the past five years, DWC has also been running a regular business start-up and development programme called Co.Starters. To date, 137 budding entrepreneurs have graduated from this nine-week programme.
Over the past 20 years DWC has supported hundreds of businesses in many different ways.
Based on recommendations in the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan, there has been a shift towards a more coordinated delivery of economic development on the West Coast. This has seen DWC recognised as the lead economic development agency (EDA) for the region as well as taking on the role of the regional tourism organisation in 2019.
As the regional EDA, DWC works alongside stakeholders to identify new and emerging opportunities, supports industry body initiatives, facilitates research projects, promotes the region, and leverages funds to attract investment into the region.
Over the past five years DWC has contributed over $250k towards feasibility studies, business cases and funding applications which have helped secure over $50m in central government funding for projects that will create jobs and strengthen resilience on the West Coast. This has included projects such as the Pounamu Pathway, Kawatiri Coastal Trail, West Coast ports, digital hubs, and the regional employment scheme Upskill.
Investing in our communities
Since its establishment, DWC has invested $67.9m into community distributions and projects to help build vibrant and thriving communities across the region. DWC has supported many community projects and facilities, including the region’s major sporting facilities, theatres, and cycle trails. These assets promote the wellbeing of our communities and make the West Coast a far more attractive place to live.
DWC is proud of its achievements over the past two decades. The Trust has been an important vehicle to improve the lives of the people and communities of the West Coast. However, we acknowledge there have been some learning curves along the way. Our commitment to the West Coast community is to be a more customer-centric organisation, and a better communicator of the work we do.
Regional development is a massive task and a team effort. We would like to thank all the businesses and organisations that have partnered with us over the past twenty years. We look forward to working with you in the future to help unleash the full business potential of the West Coast.
Heath Milne | Chief Executive