14 Aug 2015

$3 million boost for West Coast councils

1:14 pm on 14 August 2015

West Coast councils have welcomed news of a $3 million boost for business development.

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The region's mayors hope the funding boost will help struggling businesses. Photo: 123RF

Development West Coast is a charitable trust set up to manage and distribute income from a $92 million Government fund, which was an adjustment package for the loss of indigenous forestry and the privatisation of much infrastructure on the West Coast in the late 1990s.

Proposals must be submitted to the trust for consideration, and must prove they have tangible economic benefits.

The region's three mayors - Garry Howard, Tony Kokshoorn and Mike Havill - said it was timely when communities were struggling in a tough economic climate.

Development West Coast chairman John Sturgeon said it wanted to support businesses and encourage employment on the Coast.

Mr Kokshoorn said the package was just what was needed at the moment and Mr Havill said the plan would allow each council to get maximum value for their communities.

"There is the opportunity to leverage off the $1 million so we will have to come up with projects that will allow us to generate even more funding and ensure the whole of the Westland District and its businesses benefit," he said.

Buller mayor Mr Howard said they already have plans to improve the area's mobile communications black spots and a large scale home insulation development scheme.

A report Jobs After Coal, written by Coal Action Network Aotearoa, highlighted the potential for a construction programme targeted at retro-fitting homes with modern insulation.

Mr Howard said recent changes in laws about landlords having to insulate rental properties had given the idea greater impetus.

Fixing the area's mobile communications would allow professional and trades people to re-locate to the Coast and run businesses, he said.

"The Coast is feeling subdued and anxious about its future, but people do rally and diversify and carry on. The coast will move forward because it's a great place to be," he said.

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