Chamber pushes for unit


Queenstown’s Chamber of Commerce has already made one New Year resolution – and it’s ambitious.
Chamber chairman Alastair Porter says his group wants an “economic development unit” for the resort.

“We need a unit that’s got some specialist economic development staff who draw people together,” he says.

An EDU might provide market intelligence to new firms setting up and “cross-fertilise” existing opportunities from one sector to another – “to create a synergistic benefit of two-plus-two equals five”.

Simply getting businesses to talk to each other would be a prime objective of such a unit, Porter adds.

It’s early days with “a lot more work to be done” but he says preliminary discussions with Queenstown Lakes District Council and local business leaders are encouraging.

“It will need money,” Porter says. “I’d certainly imagine it needs assistance from both the council and the chamber. How it’s structured needs to be discussed but it definitely needs the support of both bodies.”
An EDU could take pressure off QLDC.

“An awful lot in this town gets loaded onto council – and that means councillors.”

Business leaders would be key. “There are people in this town who [may not] lend their skills to council but would lend their skills to a body like [the EDU].”

Porter straightens out a media miscue from when the chamber idea was first floated in June this year.
Other media labelled the EDU a “super-board” to take over the likes of Destination Queenstown and Queenstown Airport Corporation. Not so, Porter says.

“We have never suggested this board take over the role of any other board. It’s effectively a business advisory/facilitating board and those types of boards are very common overseas.”

It’s an idea whose time has come, he says.

“The resort has grown organically but now we’re getting to a scale of business where instead of informal cooperation, there would be very definite benefits in more formal cooperation.”