Penny’s Piece » September 2014

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R_PennyGaylorFor the past two elections in which I stood for the Kapiti Coast District Council I’ve run on a platform of supporting local economic development, environmental sustainability, and youth issues. Our District’s record of commitment to advancing environmental sustainability and youth issues stands for itself. But the focus on economic development has been one with minimal investment and mixed impact.

In the last triennium KCDC developed an Economic Development Strategy, and fostering Otaki’s embryonic clean technology park was one of the particular areas of focus. Council’s involvement in the Otaki Clean Technology Trust was an opportunity to invest in economic development, in Otaki, coupled with environmental sustainability. The Trust was setup in 2012 to provide support services and act as an incubator for start-up businesses at the Clean Technology Park in Ōtaki. The Trust was disbanded in late 2013 and Council has taken over the lease for the new building and is seeking tenants.

A report, requested by Council, and undertaken independently by consultants Tanner, Richie and Co, has examined Council’s establishment and funding of the Clean Technology Trust. The review is critical of Council’s processes and identifies 10 recommendations on how such an initiative should be better handled in future. Improvements based on the findings are being built into Council’s processes and a risk-smart policy framework is being developed.

Council needs to learn from this experience and take a fresh critical look at how Council has performed, with the benefit of hindsight. As Mayor Ross Church commented when the report was released, Council needs to be mature enough to accept criticisms and be able to turn them into positive improvements for ratepayers and our customers. The report is on the council website, and I encourage you to read it for yourself.

Meanwhile, the building has some tenants, more are coming on board, and there is space available for businesses looking for modern purpose-built premises in the Otaki Clean Tech Park. Council isn’t the only organisation interested or responsible for economic development and last Thursday evening I attended a meeting hosted by the Otaki Promotional Group (OPG).

This group has been responsible for such pearls as the Otaki Kite Festival (funded by KCDC), and the Lantern festival (funded by KCDC) and some Christmas evening events on the Main street in Otaki to promote the local retailers.

Members of the Otaki community instigated the OPG, but Council’s support of it (with resources and funding) has been one very tangible way we’ve supported local economic development, and it has been a highly successful combo. The Kite Festival is a great success for our community and plans are well underway for next year’s event.

As the Otaki councillor I’m pleased Council continues to seek opportunities to support Otaki so that with lessons learned, and with the know-how and commitment of people within Otaki, our community will prosper.