Wellington City Council calls for more from economic development agency

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency chief executive Chris Whelan will present the agency's statement of ...
DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency chief executive Chris Whelan will present the agency's statement of intent at a city council committee meeting on Wednesday.

Wellington's economic development agency is being placed under further scrutiny as the city council calls on it to lay out a clearer plan for growing the local economy.

The council wants the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (Wreda) to be more specific about what it will do to boost tourism, attract more skilled migrants, and promote growth in specialised companies.

It also wants the agency to set more ambitious targets and use better performance metrics.

Councillors will debate the issue when Wreda's draft statement of intent for 2017-2020 is presented at a council committee meeting on Wednesday.

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Formed in 2014, Wreda receives more than $15 million from city and regional ratepayers. In December, the city council asked Wreda to ramp up its efforts and give ratepayers more bang for their buck.

A council report prepared for Wednesday's meeting said Wreda's draft statement of intent had addressed most of the matters raised in December.

But it still needed to include more detail about what specific actions Wreda would take to grow the visitor economy and put in place a programme of inward investment, particularly in tourism.

Council staff also wanted to see actions that would contribute to a "step change" in skilled migrants, particularly in the technology sector.

The report also suggests councillors may want to ask how many extra jobs an extra $600m visitor spend might generate.

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It points out that, apart from staff at the Concentrix call centre, there would be no additional jobs attracted in 2018-19.

"We would expect there to be an increase in the jobs attracted over and above the Concentrix jobs," the report says.

Council staff also want to know if the international student programme will continue or be replaced. They are asking that programmes undertaken by Creative HQ be expanded, with better metrics used to measure its performance.

Some of the targets for performance measuring in the statement of intent were still considered to be unambitious and not stretch targets, the report says.

 - Stuff

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