Economic Plan for Wellington

10 October 2011

We all know Wellington is the best place in New Zealand to live and work - and we want to make sure it stays that way.

Video gaming company Sidhe's latest product - Rugby Challenge

Video gaming company Sidhe's latest product - Rugby Challenge

Being the coolest little capital in the world doesn't mean we can be complacent, especially with the world's economy changing so fast.   

We want to expand Wellington's economy and broaden our range of job opportunities.

The first step we've taken is to develop an economic development blueprint for the future. We're still in the early stages and now we want to hear from you. We need your views by Friday 4 November.

The Council's Portfolio Leader for the Economy, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says an economic development strategy is necessary, especially with the demand from Auckland and Christchurch for central government funding, and political attention.

"Wellington is in danger of being overlooked as a great place to invest," says Cr Coughlan.

"If Wellington is to be an economic powerhouse, an urgent response is required along with some game-changing initiatives."

Priorities in our draft strategy include securing direct flights between Asia and Wellington to Asia; a focus on marketing Wellington as a business destination and looking at the need for new concert venue and conference centre facilities.

Cr Coughlan says Wellington has many strengths, including five tertiary institutions, public and private research institutes, its capital city status and the presence of the diplomatic corps, which means we can work closely with government agencies and develop international partnerships at high levels.

"Wellington is well known as the centre of government and we have a world class and talented public sector but 79 percent of our GDP actually comes from the private sector," she says.

"Along with our strong finance, communications and business service centres we have substantial wholesale trade, transport, high-tech and manufacturing and property industries. Our infrastructure offers excellent opportunities for the weightless economy. Web-design, screen and gaming application development is alive and well here.

"With change comes opportunity and a constant stream of new and exciting businesses continue to emerge. 

"Many are new and emerging start-ups. Many are businesses which have been around for some time but are transforming themselves and operating in the hi-tech and smart space.

"Our aim is to create 10,000 jobs in Wellington. To do this we need to understand what is here - what works and why. We need to improve our access to international markets, and ensure our infrastructure is the best it can be.  We need to actively market Wellington as a great place to operate from - to retain what we already have; attract new businesses and grow both."

A great example of creating jobs in the new economy is the Wellington-based company Sidhe, which specialises in the production of video games. Sidhe started as a simple proposition in a Lower Hutt flat by a trio of friends who were studying at Victoria University of Wellington. Today it is a multi-million dollar export enterprise employing around 100 staff - all in Wellington.

Its latest product is Rugby Challenge, a game for console and PC, which goes on sale in the UK and France next later this week (14 Oct). The game went straight to #1 in the sales charts in the first week it hit the shelves in New Zealand in August.

One of Sidhe's founding partners, Tyrone McAuley, says it's important the city has an ambitious economic vision and believes it is possible to create 10,000 jobs.

"We're big believers in growing the digital economy and governments can play a role in accelerating that growth," Tyrone says.

"We received support from Grow Wellington and other government departments when we were starting out so governments certainly have a role to play in attracting investment and creating jobs. There's so much talent here in Wellington, it's world class."