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Economic Development Update - A busy long weekend looms, training opportunities and more

29 May 2020

With Queen's Birthday weekend upon us, there is much to experience on the Coromandel - whether you're coming for a weekend getaway or you're a local keen to explore your own backyard.

Coromandel icon The Lost Spring (pictured above) reopens today, and while it's already fully booked for the weekend, the tropical paradise will be a welcome feature for visitors to the Coromandel in the cooler months.

The Lost Spring chief executive Alanna Kline says she is excited to welcome everyone back to swim, spa and dine.

Over the last few weeks, the team has been working super hard behind the gates on landscaping,  deep-cleaning facilities and mechanical work, as well as putting in place new protocols necessary for Level 2, she says.

"There's a lot of demand, that's a great sign," she says. "Many of the bookings are from out-of-towners, breaking the lockdown and ready to have some fun. We have big packages booked. It's quite amazing, and positive for Whitianga." thelostspring.co.nz

Driving Creek Railway also reopens, with its train tours and zipline through regenerating native bush on the hills above Coromandel Town. dcrail.co.nz

In other parts of the district, fishing charters and local markets are back up-and-running.

For more ideas about things to do this long weekend, read on in this newsletter, or call in to your local visitor information centre, which can also help you with bookings.

Our Mayor Sandra Goudie says visitor numbers continue to be positive and she welcomes all visitors to the Coromandel for the weekend. 

"Come and enjoy the Coromandel, and support local," Mayor Sandra says.

To help promote domestic tourism, our Council has launched a competition to local school students - asking them to make a short video about why they love living here and why people should visit.

All you have to do is make a 60-second video to showcase your part of the Coromandel. More information on the '60-second sell' below.

Also in this newsletter, we share findings of the recent survey of businesses in our district, as well as information on local education providers offering courses for workplace retraining and upskilling.

In this update:

  • Training and education opportunities
  • Waikato Economic Radar
  • Coromandel business survey results
  • Things to do this long weekend 
  • Training and education opportunities
  • Schools competition - 'The 60-Second Sell'
  • The Beautiful Awards

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Waikato Economic Radar


This week's economic radar continues to show an increase in the percentage of Waikato's working-age population receiving Jobseeker support - now 6.7 per cent, compared to 5.3 per cent at the start of this year.  

Thames-Coromandel has experienced the largest increase, with April levels of Job Seeker support now 68 per cent higher than in March.

Charts in this week's radar also show the gap in weekly consumer spending, relative to the same time last year, has largely closed across the Waikato, after dropping as much as 60 per cent below last year's levels during late March and April.

The Waikato Economic Radar is produced by Te Waka, our regional economic development agency for Waikato, with the support of Waikato Regional Council economists Blair Keenan and Sarah MacKay. It was created to track what's happening in the Waikato economy as a result of COVID-19.

The weekly radar for 27 May is available to view here.

Coromandel business survey results

Results of Coromandel business survey

A survey our Council commissioned has delivered a snapshot of how businesses were positioned at the end of the lockdown.

During Alert Level 3, our Council made direct calls to hundreds of local businesses as part of the Waikato Business Support Service, led by our regional economic development agency Te Waka.

Fifty-nine businesses responded to the survey (compared to 198 for the whole Waikato region), with most we spoke to from the retail, hospitality, tourism, professional services, manufacturing, creative and primary industries,

Thanks to those who took part in the survey.

Te Waka says the survey is not just a short-term provision.

"For businesses, the effects of COVID-19, the recession and its impact will take months to be realised. The business support service and network will evolve to stay relevant and provide future resilience for businesses in the response to economic challenges." the agency says.

Te Waka also says it will continue to advocate to central government for support that cuts through to local businesses.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Operations

  • 52 per cent of local businesses were closed with no operations at the time of the survey.
  • 57 per cent felt their speed of return to normal business would be slow, and business would remain well below previous normal levels.

Staffing

  • 86 per cent of businesses had made no redundancies to date, with 10 per cent making 1-5 staff redundant.  This was in line with the rest of the Waikato region.
  • However, 34 per cent of Thames-Coromandel respondents felt they would make redundancies in the future, compared to 19 per cent regionally.

Funding assistance

  • 85 per cent of local businesses had received the wage subsidy, in line with regional figures. 10 per cent had not accessed government funding.
  • 42 per cent had sought rent relief, significantly above regional figures (27 per cent).
  • 31 per cent had sought bank assistance, the majority of which was with interest-only loans or loan holidays.
  • Financial advice featured strongly in Alert Level 4 professional support, with an emergence of focus on website and online selling and marketing planning in Alert Level 3.
  • Most businesses were proposing to turn to their regular professional advisors or online resources for support.

Te Waka Regional Business Partner Services - COVID-19 Fund

Approximately $900,000 in business support has been provided direct to businesses across the Waikato as part of the central government's COVID-19 fund. Of that, just under $60,000 has been provided to Thames-Coromandel businesses.

This fund was designed to fund businesses to access one-on-one support with professionals in the following areas: human resources, health and wellness, business continuity planning, finance and cashflow management.

    

Things to do this long weekend


Some of the Coromandel’s best-loved visitor attractions are reopening for the long weekend.

The Lost Spring geo-thermal resort opens today to a sold-out weekend.  Alert Level 2 requirements mean they’re taking bookings, in two-hour slots for all of their services at the pool, day spa and restaurant.

Over the last few weeks, the team has been working on landscaping,  deep-cleaning of the facilities and mechanical work, as well as putting in place new protocols necessary for Level 2.

"We've never taken bookings before, and the pool and spa has been fully booked for this weekend, since early this week," says The Lost Spring chief executive Alanna Kline.

"The next three weekends are almost booked for the spa and the pools. In fact, we're almost full 'til the 18th of July now."

The pool-side restaurant, which has a new chef from Auckland, still has availability this weekend, but Alanna emphasises the need to book first.

The Lost Spring will be reviewing its opening days regularly, so keep an eye on its Facebook page for updates @thelostspringthermalpools&dayspa or visit the website:  thelostspring.co.nz

Driving Creek Railway is back with its train tours through regenerating native bush on the Coromandel Town property where late potter Barry Brickell sourced the clay for his creations. Driving Creek’s zipline canopy tour (pictured) is open from Saturday, combining a ride on the railway with tree-top level ziplines. dcrail.nz

Get out on the Firth of Thames with a fishing charter such as Legionaire on the Thames Coast. On the other side of the Coromandel, Strikezone Fishing Charters in Tairua is back in business. Call ahead for charter operations as they're weather-dependent.

The Whangamata Sunday Market reopens this weekend, at the Council car park next to the surfboard, from 9am-1pm.

You can also sample the fresh produce of our district by following the Coromandel Food Trail on the Destination Coromandel website: thecoromandel.com

Or get outdoors by riding the Hauraki Rail Trail, or following some of the walks and bike trails in Your Coromandel Tracks and Trails Guide

For more inspiration and details on who to book with, check the Destination Coromandel website thecoromandel.com

    

Local providers offering opportunities to retrain

The Government's 'Jobs Budget' included a huge investment in jobs and training to get New Zealanders working again after the pandemic.  

More information on free vocational and trades and apprenticeships training is available in this Budget announcement here.

Many of our local training providers are offering targeted courses to help people who have lost jobs to retrain. 

Thames-based Valley Education and Training Enterprises (VETEL) is offering three traditional courses in the areas of agriculture, mechanical engineering and retail.

Organisation manager Mark Jennings says the agriculture courses, in particular, have had strong interest from people who  had recently been made redundant but had worked in agriculture previously and are now looking for a quick, starter course to get back into farming. 

"They've phoned up saying, 'I've been made redundant and I think I'll give farming another go'," Mr Jennings says.

"The timing is right, because with fewer migrant workers, there will be a gap for all farming and farming-related industries looking for workers over June to August. So we are catering for that," he says. 

The courses bring people up-to-speed with relevant health and safety measures, aspects of milking and cow sheds and the possibility of a quad bike or motorcycle ticket. There's also training on fencing and using chain saws, so when they go to a new job they are equipped and ready-to-go.

"We're very keen to hear from those who have had a taste for farming in the past, because the jobs are readily availalble. Farms are screaming out for workers," Mr Jennings says.

For good students who respond well to the course, VETEL is happy to provide references to employers.

More information: valleyeducation.co.nz

Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) is planning to have all its campuses open for semester 2, with courses starting from July.

Courses that are currently planned  include foundation and pathway programmes in health and wellbeing, early childhood education, nursing, social practice, horticulture and creative industries.

You could be eligible for fees-free study under the government’s education policy. In addition to the government scheme, Wintec offers several fees-free programmes. There are also additional programmes such as Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) and Youth Guarantee that offer free study to eligible students.

To find our more, register your interest now; as courses need minimum numbers to run.   Contact:  (07) 868 8778 or email sue.boden@wintec.ac.nz  More information wintec.ac.nz

The 60-Second Sell challenge


We've launched a competition for school students around the Coromandel as a way to promote our domestic tourism and show the rest of the country why we love being here, and why people should come and visit.

If you’ve got an interest in making videos – now’s the chance to make $500 for your school and help us promote our local businesses and showcase the Coromandel to the rest of the country.

“You can submit as an individual or as team – with the purpose of the video being to boost the economy through sharing your stories about why you love local, and love the Coromandel,” says our Mayor Sandra Goudie.

The 60 Second Sell challenge involves:
1 - Making a sixty-second video promoting what you love about where you live on the Coromandel and why people should come and visit your neighbourhood.

2 - The winning entry for each category will receive $500 for their school and the video will be showcased through our communication channels and beyond.

It has to be exactly one minute, no shorter or longer.

There are three categories: (Each category wins $500)
Junior school age 5 – 10
Middle school age 10 – 13
Senior school 14 – 17

How to enter:

  • Pull a team together and register with dana.little@tcdc.govt.nz.
  • Promote or create a story about where you live and the reasons why people should come and visit.
  • Shoot your video. Send it to us in a message on our TCDC Facebook page. 

The deadline for registrations is Friday 5 June and entries close on Friday 12 June. It will be judged by our panel of experts who will announce the winners on 24 June.

For more information contact dana.little@tcdc.govt.nz or visit tcdc.govt.nz/60secondsell

 East Waikato Careers and Employers' Expo

Organisers have provisionally set aside 12-13 August for a two-day East Waikato Careers and Employers' Expo.

This will replace the Business and Youth roadshow, so all high schools across the Coromandel, together with those from neighbouring Matamata-Piako and Hauraki districts  will be invited to join.

The plan is for the expo to run from 9am-6pm on the Wednesday and 9am-3pm on the Thursday.

Please register your interest with dana.little@tcdc.govt.nz

Come on Coromandel - show us how beautiful you are


We all know how beautiful the Coromandel is, and now’s the chance to remind the rest of the country by entering the national Beautiful Awards.

“The Beautiful Awards celebrate environmental excellence and are a great way to celebrate the positive things during these uncertain times,” says our Mayor Sandra Goudie.

“One thing that remains certain is the need to look after, enhance, and preserve our beautiful environment for our local communities,” she says.

The annual competition is open to all individuals, environmental groups, schools, businesses, communities, towns, cities and councils. 

Projects, campaigns and initiatives that have been completed between 1 August 2019 and 5 August 2020 are eligible. Entries are open until 5 August 2020.

In 2018, Plastic-Free Coromandel Town won the Community Group Award, along with the newly-built Hot Water Beach toilet, which won the Plumbing World Best Loo Award.

"This is a great initiative that we want to get behind again this year. We really showed our capabilities by winning two categories in 2018 and this reflects how much effort our local communities put in to keeping New Zealand beautiful," Mayor Sandra says.

Winners will be announced at the Beautiful Awards Dinner - currently booked in at The Domes Auckland Zoo on 29 October, 2020.

If you have any questions, please email projects@knzb.org.nz

More information: knzb.org.nz

Visitor information centres


All our visitor centres are open, with the following hours:

Thames i-SITE:  10am – 1:30pm, Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday.

Whitianga i-SITE: 10am – 1:30pm, Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday.

Coromandel Town Visitor Centre: 7 days a week, 10am-3:00pm.
Tairua Visitor Centre:  Monday-Friday, 10am - 2pm.

Pauanui Visitor Centre: 7 days a week, 10am - 4pm.

Whangamata Visitor Centre:  7 days a week, 10am- 3pm.

For more information on our visitor centres and on visiting the Coromandel, go to the website of Destination Coromandel, our regional tourism marketing organisation.