Clean Tech Centre loses Grow backing

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 09:40 25/08/2014

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Wellington's economic development agency is withdrawing its backing for Otaki's Clean Technology Centre, saying it has failed to achieve results for ratepayers.

Grow Wellington owns the building, off Riverbank Rd, which has been occupied by 27 different tenants since the centre opened in 2010.

It has now given three months' notice to the six current occupants, and plans to let the space to industrial tenants instead.

Grow Wellington chief executive Gerard Quinn said it had tried for four years to make its support for the Clean Technology Centre work. "We have to be really careful with public money. It has not worked out."

One of the centre's most high- profile projects was a $200,000 electric rubbish truck, commissioned by Kapiti Coast District Council, which was assembled and tested at the centre about 18 months ago.

"We have been confident working with the council, but we are not getting the results, the best bang for bucks," Quinn said.

"One of the aims was to attract out-of- the-region businesses. We have not been successful in that."

He insisted Grow Wellington was not withdrawing support for Kapiti, or for clean technology businesses overall.

Securing rent from industrial tenants meant it could put that funding into supporting clean technology businesses.

However, Stuart Pritchard, who helped create the centre, believed Grow Wellington's withdrawal would have minimal effect on the centre.

Kapiti Mayor Ross Church said it was disappointing, but would not affect the council's goals for the area.

"We see a positive future for Otaki. Much is happening through the efforts of council, Otaki community and others associated with the park to continue to fulfil a wider vision of promoting clean technology initiatives in Otaki."

In 2012 the council fronted a nine-year, $1.5 million loan, to be paid in instalments, for an independent trust to drive growth at the clean technology park.

Last December, the council announced it would take over the trust after it went above its $300,000 administration allocation, with few tenants to show for it.

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- The Dominion Post

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