Tuesday, 24th September, 2019
THE TROUBLE WITH STATEMENTS
I have been pondering the question of growth and how we talk about it. How should the CEO of an organisation representing businesses contribute to this conversation?
There is always going to be a natural juxtaposition between our desire for growth from a business perspective, and a fear of what that growth could mean for our lifestyles, community and environment.
There is no one right answer, but the disjoint does create an anxiety and exacerbate distrust of people, institutions and government. This is where we see people pulling out all the stops to try and regain control, becoming ever more polarised in the process and stymieing progress in discussions.
As might be expected of an organisation that represents businesses, I don’t think the notion of a no-growth future should be entertained. People want to live and play here, they will keep coming and we must plan for this. But let’s be clear: business looks at growth in terms of dollars, not visitors. If our business managers can innovate and evolve to provide goods and services to the current number of people, or even fewer of them - while meeting or exceeding the financial expectations of their customers, staff, owners and suppliers - they could find a comfortable position in which they support less growth in terms of visitor numbers.
I see evidence of work and investment underway in this community to help to manage growth. I see subsidised public transport, a network of public cycle ways, local government acquisition of some prime pieces of land for public benefit, re-development of public land for housing intensification, a nation-leading housing trust plus the attempt to introduce a new local visitor levy system to fund much-needed infrastructure. I see urgency in business and local government, a desire to respond to growth challenges. I also see imperfection from time-to-time. Mistakes made, execution botched. The need for on-going critique remains and this community has this is spades.
So, how will I approach leading the Chamber on this vexed issue of growth? I will not make statements or hold a position. They tend to polarise. I will acknowledge the contribution of others and work to help talk about growth and, in doing so, work with those who want to turn concerns into positive action. I will consider how we will know if we are making progress towards a sustainably managed future. I will encourage people to stop worshiping the false gods of regulation and transparency, that trap us in a never ending cycle of yearning for more information and being satisfied with none, and instead value intelligent accountability, moral leadership and culturally appropriate good manners.
The Board of the Chamber, as well as the Board of Shaping Our Future, have voted to work together to establish a Transport Management Association to seek funding for the implementation of a travel demand management plan for the Wakatipu basin to support mode-shift (that's travel talk for getting out of cars).
This group is in the process of being incorporated and establishing a constitution and will seek to establish a working relationship with the key infrastructure providers in the region (NZTA, ORC and QLDC) and the Transport Governance Group. It is the view of the Chamber and Shaping Our Future that an increased focus on how we move around the Wakatipu Basin is an essential component in dealing with visitor and residential growth.
Initial funding for a NZTA-sponsored travel demand management plan was not successful, as NZTA reconsiders their travel demand management approaches.
The Chamber supports economic diversification in the Wakatipu area and supports the work of Startup Queenstown Lakes. Startup Weekend is an awesome opportunity to give new and seasoned entrepreneurs the chance to crack into turning that great idea into a business-ready proposition. This year it’s on October 18-20 at the Queenstown Memorial Centre. Instead of reading all about it, watch the video of me talking to James Burnes below or visit www.startupqueenstownlakes.co.nz for more details. Book a ticket today for yourself or one of your rising stars!
VODAFONE CHAMBER INNOVATION SUMMIT
We are thrilled to have Vodafone get in behind the Chamber and support our last major event for the year. We have an amazing line up of out of town and local speakers planned for November 1st, 2019 at the Hilton. All will be revealed on Wednesday, when our speakers, sponsors and tickets will be available on our website. Pop a placeholder in your diary today.
QUEENSTOWN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AGM
Another important date for the diary is our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 26th November, 4pm at Sofitel. Board Director nominations will be open soon and I will circulate further details. In the meantime, if you are interested in joining the Chamber Board, please get in touch with myself or Chamber Chair, Craig Douglas.