The Queenstown Lakes District Council has approved landmark funding for local economic development.

Funding of $220,000 was announced this afternoon for Startup Queenstown Lakes. The group has evolved from The Cube in Wanaka which has been supporting early stage businesses. A further $160,000 has been set aside for other economic development initiatives that are still in their early planning stages.

Trent Yeo of Queenstown based, Ziptrek Ecotours. Image: Crux.org.nz

One of the entrepreneurs linked to the newly funded group, Trent Yeo of Ziptrek Ecotours, told Crux “We’d like to see our community develop a broader economic base. To develop from a world class place to visit to become a world class place to live and build an idea.”

Alistair King, co-founder of the Cube in Wanaka, highlighted the importance of the new funding. “A district wide approach was always the intention for The Cube so it is fantastic to see this growth happening. With over 30 mentors giving their time to help businesses and a database of more than 360 people interested in entrepreneurship in the area demand and support is here, it is now about growing this opportunity for diversification of our economy.”

One of the projects involved in the new funding initiative is focussed on the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce helping employers to recruit and retain staff.

Startup businesses are one way our local economy can diversify and offer more employment opportunities according to QLDC Councillor Ross McRobie.

“We need to support our existing businesses, but also help spark entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality. We want to be a business base for ambitious entrepreneurs bringing something new and innovative into the district, not be known as a bolt-hole for those who have already made it”.

Alistair King

Alistair King, co-founder of Cube Wanaka. Image: Crux.org.nz

Peter Harris, economic development manager for QLDC, praised the efforts put in across the district prior to today’s funding announcement.

“The Cube has helped numerous businesses launch and grow in the Upper Clutha and the potential to see this happen in a coordinated way across the whole district is exciting”.

“The Queenstown and Wanaka Chambers of Commerce are both supportive of the economic development support offered by QLDC. This fits well with the two Chambers which are collaborating to support existing businesses,” says Mr Harris.


Peter Newport is founder and managing editor at Crux.org.nz.