Wānaka Sun       

BRG navigates economic storm in the wake of coronavirus

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 07 May, 2020 | By Pat Deavoll editor@thewanakasun.co.nz

The economic development team at Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC), Destination Queenstown (DQ), Lake Wanaka Tourism (LWT), Ignite Wanaka and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce are working together under the collective banner of Southern Lakes Business Recovery Group (BRG) to respond to the economic challenges facing the district's business sector.

The priority has been the gathering and sharing of information, listening to immediate business needs, and providing access to the support and resources businesses have required to get them through the initial response phase and subsequent challenges of the Alert Level systems in place.

"At a time when businesses have been under enormous stress, the BRG has played an integral role, disseminating a huge amount of information and getting it out in a concise and timely fashion," said BRG response manager Peter Harris. He is also QLDC's economic development manager.

The BRG has sent regular communications to businesses in the Queenstown Lakes District providing information on wage subsidy, and business mentoring opportunities as well as mental health, wellbeing support and access to online training.

The training sessions provide opportunities for the business community to connect and navigate their way through the current situation. Webinars held by the Chamber of Commerce, DQ, Ignite Wanaka and the Otago Regional Business Network have been heavily subscribed, with a combined reach in the tens of thousands.

"While we have focused on getting through this together it is now important that we look at the future, what this might look like for the region and how we can help our business community transition," said Harris.

"It will take a coordinated community approach to reimagine and rebuild our economy, and as a group, we are already starting these conversations with businesses, other groups and individuals keen to help. The Mayoral Taskforce is in the early stages of development and members of the BRG will be offering our assistance to this process, along with the expertise of the wider business community."

LWT and DQ are also working with national partners TNZ, TIA and RTNZ on scenario planning and forecasting to help tourism plan for a reimagined industry. They will be asking local businesses for their thoughts in the coming weeks.

The Chambers of Commerce and council's economic development team continue to look at labour force challenges and opportunities including redeployment solutions, shovel ready projects to kickstart the economy and how to retain key individuals to ensure a thriving community - socially and economically. 

"The Queenstown Lakes District is renowned for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, and we know there are many who'd like to be involved in reimagining our future, and we encourage any groups that are out there thinking in this space to get in touch," said Harris.

He said he was excited to have seen many ideas raised throughout the community.

"After we collate the ideas received by QLDC, we will create some criteria to evaluate them and be in touch with those who have contributed. We are also keen to explore how we can help support ideas suggested via other organisations."

Read edition 974 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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