Development West Coast releases 2023 Annual Report

29 August 2023
Development West Coast
DWC has released its Annual Report for the year ended 31 March 2023, highlighting a year of economic challenges, strategic investments and significant support for the West Coast business community.

Amid global economic challenges including high inflation, increasing interest rates and softer equity markets, DWC's investment portfolio experienced a reduction of $7.3m to $139.6m. This was primarily due to unrealised losses of $7.7m.As of July 2023, the fund has recovered by $3.6m to $143.2m, in line with economic expectations as inflation comes under control, interest rates stabilise, and equities recover.

DWC Chief Executive, Heath Milne, commented, “The DWC investment portfolio is highly diversified, with a mix of growth and income producing assets. The outlook for equity markets into FY24 remains cautious with inflation and central bank cash rates likely to have peaked. DWC remains in a good position to be able to receive cash returns to fund future initiatives and continue to support the West Coast.”

The fiscal year closed with a $5m net deficit, in contrast to the previous year's $2.8m profit. Despite this, DWC approved 12 out of 14 commercial funding applications, totalling $4.2m, and invested an additional $8.2m in regional development projects and community distribution.

DWC has maintained its commitment to the West Coast Community Trust (WCCT) with an annual contribution of $200,000.

As well as reacting to the immediate needs of the region, DWC is working on long-term projects and initiatives. The year began with a focus on collaboration within the region as work started on executing Te Whanaketanga Te Tai Poutini West Coast 2050 Strategy.

Building confidence in the region is a key mission and several initiatives got underway with this in mind. A concerted effort to enhance the region's national image has seen DWC proactively securing 217 media placements, both nationally and internationally, highlighting positive West Coast stories and generating an advertising equivalency value exceeding $1.6m.

Recognising the importance of retaining talent in the region, DWC has continued its Tertiary Scholarship programme offering four annual scholarships valued at up to $32,500 per student.

The year also saw the launch of Te Tai Pountini Destination Management Plan, setting a clear direction for tourism in the region, and Te Tai Poutini Renewable Energy Strategy to help unlock opportunities in renewable energy investments and job creation on the West Coast.

From its initial capital of $92m in 2001, DWC’s direct investment into the West Coast economy has now reached $182.8m while maintaining the Fund at $139.6m.

DWC 2023 equity

“The true value of DWC to the region goes far beyond direct investment into the economy,” said Milne. “DWC staff are working tirelessly with local businesses to build capability, as well as helping them access other capital and business opportunities, and at the same time promoting the Coast as a great place to visit and live.”

During the financial year, DWC worked with 345 actively managed clients and allocated $846,219 in training, advisory and advice implementation funding to 210 West Coast businesses through the Regional Business Partner Network and MBIE’s Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan. A further $2.53m in Tourism Communities Kick-Start funding was distributed to 89 COVID-impacted businesses in Westland District. The year also saw over 850 people attending DWC business events, workshops, and trainings.

DWC is continuing to leverage its Fund to attract investment into the region. This financial year, DWC helped secure $3.9m in external investment for the region.

In March, DWC conducted its annual client survey to assess the perception of DWC among the West Coast community and other stakeholders. The survey results showed DWC’s net promotor score improved to +21 and has consistently improved since the first survey in 2020.

“This reflects the great work and dedication of the entire DWC team,” said Milne.

DWC looks forward to another year of working closely with stakeholders to unleash business potential on the West Coast.

The close of the financial year was marked by a significant and sad moment for the entire DWC whanau with the passing of sitting Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio appointee Trustee Barry Wilson on 28 February 2023.

“Barry was a great supporter of DWC and a true gentleman. His wisdom and outstanding personal values will be missed – we will remember him fondly,” said DWC chair Renee Rooney.

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