Regional round-up – Nelson, Marlborough, and West Coast

Things are very positive in the upper South Island, with a press release from the Marlborough District Council saying the region’s economy is building at the fastest pace experienced in more than a decade. 

“The latest quarterly economic data from Infometrics estimates GDP growth for Marlborough in the year to March 2018 was 4.4 percent, outstripping the national rate of 2.7 percent.”

Mayor John Leggett says the report shows how well the region is bouncing back from the Kaikoura quake.

“We have a strengthening economy showing steady and consistent growth and perhaps the biggest problem is that our businesses just can’t get enough workers,” he says.

Marlborough’s construction sector is humming, with consents issued for $53 million of non-residential projects over the year to March, up 19.2 percent on the previous year, and residential dwelling consents issued has climbed by almost a third.

The construction industry in the Tasman district is also buoyant, with the sector making the largest contribution to overall growth between 2016 and 2017, which has climbed 13 percent. It also has made the biggest contribution to employment growth, adding 122 jobs over the year.

At Port Nelson, things are positive too, with the port named as a finalist in the 2018 Port Infrastructure Development of the Year in the Asia Pacific region.

Port Nelson CEO Martin Byrne says, “the project has been our highest value infrastructure investment in more than 100 years, primarily built to meet the demands of the burgeoning wine industry.”

In the year to May 2018, more than 3.6 million bottles of wine were exported to overseas markets though QuayConnect.

However, there’s more than wine in Marlborough. Last month, the Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau announced that the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest $772,000 for a blue mussel processing plant to be established in the region.

“Until now it has been uneconomic to process blue mussels using standard industry practises. In the course of farming for green lipped mussels, they are considered a by-product and an unwanted nuisance on commercial green shell mussel farms,” says Tabuteau.

However, the innovative blue mussel processing plant adds economic value to an otherwise discarded natural resource, taking harvested Blue Mussels and using them to produce useful materials, such as proteins in pet food and crushed shells as an alternative to pesticides.

On the West Coast, a significant injection from the PGF will create new opportunities in transport and tourism and underpins the direction of the Development West Coast 2018-25 Strategy.

Over $600,000 has been allocated for four feasibility studies in transport and tourism which look set to boost employment opportunities throughout the region. The specific programmes include the viability of upgrades to Westport and Greymouth ports, developing a master plan for Greymouth to rejuvenate the town, and assisting KiwiRail to explore the viability of a scenic train service between Westport and Hokitika.

Finance New Zealand two business partners located in the upper South Island. Simon Harding and Lindsay Campbell find funding solutions for our customers located between Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast.