Queenstown mayor: ‘We need to ID barriers to growth’

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Queenstown’s council is bringing in some heavyhitters to help tackle a plan for diversifying the resort’s tourism-dependent economy.

Queenstown Lakes District Council has appointed a former Deutsche Bank chief economist Ulf Schoefisch and Kiwi consultancy firm Martin Jenkins to collaborate on analysis of major issues affecting Queenstown’s economic development, a statement says.

Their work will include the following:
• highlighting opportunities for industry diversification (including how to attract investment);

• reviewing issues of housing affordability;

• identifying strengths and weaknesses unique to the district’s economy;

• a review of how other resort towns have dealt with similar issues;

• targeted consultation with key stakeholders to test the analysis.

A draft economic development strategy will be completed by March, 2014, for consideration by the council followed by wider consultation with the community.

Mayor Vanessa van Uden says the community had set the district’s economic aspirations through the consultative Shaping our Future Economic Futures process: “Now we need to undertake some rigorous economic analysis of the opportunities for progressing these aspirations, and also to identify the current barriers to growth and diversification in our District.”

Schoefisch, a former Reserve Bank policy wonk, has previously commented in Mountain Scene, lambasting a private push for a Frankton convention centre – calling it a classic case of narrow financial considerations getting in the way of long-term economics and instead favouring a Queenstown council-led proposal downtown at its Lakeview site.

“A lack of financial performance of the [Frankton] centre and potential threat of closure would most likely lead to demands for council subsidies – putting the council and the region (with the centre in the wrong place) in a much worse situation than implied by a smart and stable funding strategy associated with the Lakeside proposal.

“There are numerous examples where the semi-public good character of such facilities has forced governments to bail out ill thought-out private ventures.”