A colleague recently met a newcomer to Whanganui who, upon hearing she worked at Whanganui & Partners, speculated that she must either be at a match-making agency or a law firm. We may not be romantic enablers or be able to provide legal guidance but we do perform a good deal of introductions and give good counsel.
Along with match-making and legal advice, there are other projects we are often mistakenly credited with. Whanganui & Partners is not responsible for the Pilot Academy, Velodrome, or Port Development Project. Although we have good partnerships with the stakeholders responsible for these projects, and there is collaborative potential across the developments, Whanganui & Partners is not a lead on any of these three areas of public interest.
So with these along with break-ups and match-ups off the agenda, what specifically does your local economic development agency do?
Business: Whanganui & Partners helps attract, support and retain business in Whanganui. We are part of the Regional Business Partner network and have three full-time business facilitators who advise on new business ideas, staffing, location, product development and markets.
Our business growth advisor gives support to start-ups and entrepreneurs to make sure success is a given in their business plans. We provide free business support and help new businesses find the right people and resources to help them grow.
We have a dedicated agribusiness lead whose focus is on developing our region into a food and fibre powerhouse. Agriculture was responsible for 7.5 per cent of Whanganui’s GDP in 2020, and the rural sector provides a prosperous base on which value can be added throughout our broader economy.
Marketing and tourism: If you’ve been on holiday out of town and seen a billboard, bus back or TV ad encouraging you to “Discover Whanganui”, chances are its inception took place at Whanganui & Partners. Our marketing efforts go unnoticed by most locals, and for good reason, but the visitors who come here have likely been in our scopes.
Our visitor-dedicated websites have had more than 100,000 individual visitors since July alone and our advertising campaigns have supported the 3 per cent tourism growth Whanganui had in 2020 -the year the country endured lockdowns and closed borders.
We put much considered effort into our Whanganui “brand”, and we work with local businesses and the visitor industry to make sure people who visit have an experience they love and leave wanting more. Whanganui & Partners works to development new visitor attractions, provides sponsorship for our biggest events and attracts events and conferences to Whanganui.
We promote Whanganui in the mainstream media and through social media channels. If you’ve noticed a positive shift in Whanganui’s reputation and identity, we hope we’ve had an integral role achieving it.
Whanganui i-SITE Visitor Centre: The i-SITE is a resource used by locals and visitors to book trips, experiences and accommodation. Our busy i-SITE gets 25,000+ visitors a year and the drop in international tourists since COVID-19’s onset has been more than made up for with national visitors.
Our i-SITE staff are experts on all to do and see in Whanganui and provide a welcoming and friendly face to our visitor experience.
Creative industries: We support artists and businesses related to our internationally renowned creative industries. Whanganui’s image is intrinsically bound to our creatives and we know that the people who forge careers or lifelines in our creative industries contribute inestimably to our identity as a city of art and design.
We recognise the historical significance of Whanganui’s cultural heritage and more than 800 years’ worth of creative endeavour. Those working in Whanganui’s creative sector always have a champion in Whanganui & Partners and the agency has a Strategic Lead and a Co-ordinator dedicated to working with the creative sector.
Whanganui & Partners is responsible for our city’s campaign to become a UNESCO City of Design. We are nearing the end of this application process with an announcement due later this year. The agency has also formed Film Whanganui to support the development of film projects in our region.
We contribute to our creative sector with funding, sponsorship and support groups and we communicate Whanganui’s unique artistic identity in national and international media.
Interpretation and distribution of data: When Whanganui’s real estate metrics shift significantly, or visitor numbers spike, or unemployment moves, we make sure we have access to the latest data and can report on it in a meaningful and transparent manner.
It is our job to help shift these metrics favourably, and it is also our job to discern what any movement means and what we can do to alter or support emerging trends. We produce economic dashboards, media releases and online reports to communicate Whanganui’s economic performance to the public and the business community.
We hold twice-yearly public forums to keep everyone up-to-date: We invite the public to find out more about our economy and Whanganui & Partners’ activities by attending our upcoming Public Forum on March 23. At our November forum, Infometrics economist Brad Olsen spoke about how impressively Whanganui’s economy had coped with COVID-19 related challenges. At this month’s forum, local business owners will share their first-hand experiences.
Visit whanganuiandpartners.nz/forum to register for this event, which will be held at FRANK. Bar + Eatery from 5.30-7.30 on March 23.
Get in touch with us.