First Council Backs Proposed Regional Economic Agency

16 May 2014

A proposed new region-wide Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) has received a significant boost with unanimous backing from Wednesday night’s meeting of the Upper Hutt City Council.

Upper Hutt City is the first of the region’s nine councils to formally consider the WREDA proposal – which already has the backing of the region’s Mayoral Forum.

The new single agency would bring together Grow Wellington with existing Wellington City Council-run tourism, events and venues agencies.

The Mayoral Forum’s Chair – and Upper Hutt Mayor - Wayne Guppy says the proposed new ‘super-agency’ would enable the region to foot it more effectively on the national and international stage.

The region’s other eight Councils will all have the opportunity to discuss the proposal individually in coming weeks – and decide whether to agree in principle to the proposed organisation.

Mayor Guppy says the rationale behind WREDA is compelling: “We have a number of agencies at the moment that all do good work – but we are inefficient with the resources we have, basically the jam is spread too thin.

“The regional economy is improving but we can do a lot better. We need to change our approach and unite to pro-actively grow the region’s economy.”

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde have also endorsed plans for WREDA.

Both say the agency would be better resourced and able to present a regional front to help progress a range of major economic initiatives – ranging from an extension to the Wellington Airport runway to growing R&D in the region and developing high-tech creative opportunities.

Ms Wilde says the WREDA proposal fits perfectly with the widely-held mood for regional growth and, more immediately, for councils and other organisations to gain scale by sharing services more effectively.

Mayor Wade-Brown says the proposal is also about making strategic investment and coordinating smart economic initiatives so the region can continue to invest in new and improved amenities for citizens and visitors alike.

“Wellington City contributes the lion’s share of regional spend on economic growth, and we need to work more closely to ensure those resources are well targeted.”

WREDA would bring together Grow Wellington, Positively Wellington Tourism, Positively Wellington Venues and Wellington City Council’s Major Events unit.

It would be governed through a Wellington Regional Strategy Committee comprised of 10 elected members from across the region:

  • Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua, Kapiti - 1 elected member each
  • Wairarapa - 1 elected member
  • Wellington City - 4 elected members
  • A non-Wellington City Council Chair.

Mayor Guppy says the proposed committee membership will provide genuine regional representation and set the economic growth agenda for the Wellington region.

The agency’s day to day operations would be overseen by a board of independent directors, appointed for their business expertise and other relevant experience.