Co-hosted by the Wellington City Council and the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, the forum connected around 50 influential business organisations and tertiary leaders with the Council to examine the priority, sequencing and funding needed to effect transformative growth projects.
“Wellington’s business community is a vital part of our city’s prosperity,” said the Mayor. “This forum was a valuable exchange of ideas, an open dialogue to examine Council’s economic growth agenda, and to identify how we can work better together.
“Business confidence is up and GDP is growing. We have further work to do to be more business-friendly, reduce bureaucracy, and be transparent and decisive about regulations. We need to communicate better with business and improve our partnerships.
“Since the 2013 election, our Council has reduced development fees, added new events to the calendar and promoted shared services in water and IT. We’ve promoted our 8 Big Ideas growth agenda, so Wellington continues to be the city where talent wants to live.
“Business is an important part of a successful, sustainable city. The Capital’s social, environmental and cultural wellbeing are also important and these all are mutually reinforcing if we choose the best projects and work closely with our diverse communities.”
Breakout sessions examined key Council proposals, which Chamber of Commerce CE Raewyn Bleakley said were valuable exercises in how Wellington can transform the ideas into action.
“Hearing the voice of the business community is particularly important for Council, given that Wellington businesses pay nearly half of the Wellington City Council’s total rate-take,” said Ms Bleakley. “It’s imperative that we, as the business community, have a significant role and stake in the operation, structure and performance of Wellington - given our contribution.
“It was great to have a first look at the Council’s proposals, and there was a desire expressed for more engagement in a business-like way. It was fantastic to see the willingness of people in the business sector to give frank and constructive feedback.
“There’s currently no shortage of determination to see this city and region prosper. A next step might be the development of tighter working groups led jointly by the Council and the Chamber, to take some of these ideas further,” she said.
The forum was held at the Majestic Centre on Willis Street and featured presentations from Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Chamber of Commerce president John Milford, Council’s CEO Kevin Lavery and a wrap-up from Chamber CEO Raewyn Bleakley. Councillor Simon Marsh, Council’s Deputy Chair of the Economic Growth and Arts Committee, MC’d the event.
What business says: a selection of feedback
Miki Szikszai, CEO, Snapper: “Wellington’s tech sector needs access to talent and access to markets. It’s good to see Council engage with the sector to advance these goals.”
John Dow, Board Member, WECC: “The business community fully supports a fresh approach to events in Wellington. We’re creating the momentum, collaboration and goodwill, we’ve got to keep it up.”
Linda Sissons, CEO, Weltec: “Auckland has led the way by initiating a strategic growth plan for tertiary education. Wellington local government, business and tertiary education need to not just join the dots but also plan growth together.”
Nick Rowney, Committee Member, NZ Rise: “Wellington is poised to become the tech centre of New Zealand and the launching pad for New Zealand tech companies internationally. But this won’t happen unless there is collaboration between the tech sector, education sector and business sector.”