A campaign for Marlborough to ‘support local and buy local’ and another to get some early domestic visitors back to our region are in a package of COVID-19 economic recovery projects recommended to councillors this week. The $865,000 package also includes proposals around free parking in Blenheim and Picton and a contingency fund to support commercial and community events.
The Economic Action Marlborough (TEAM) group chair, Deputy Mayor Nadine Taylor, says councillors were supportive of the recovery package put together by TEAM. There is a strong focus on boosting Marlborough’s CBD, retail and hospitality businesses in the short term.
Council will be asked to formally endorse the projects at its meeting next week (14 May).
Elements of the recovery package proposed by TEAM include:
- A focused six month ‘buy local’ campaign, led by Destination Marlborough and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, encouraging Marlborough people to support local businesses, hospitality, activities and retailers through winter and spring and in the lead up to Christmas.
- The first stage of an extensive domestic tourism marketing campaign. Destination Marlborough is in talks with Tourism New Zealand and its proposed that Council would support marketing campaigns designed to showcase the brilliance of Marlborough to New Zealanders and support the local visitor economy.
- Access for up to 100 small Marlborough businesses to get professional advice and guidance from people such as accountants and lawyers at reduced rates. Led by Business Trust Marlborough and targeted at businesses which don’t qualify for Government-funded support.
- A series of webinars specially designed to upskill and inform Marlborough businesses on topics such as e-commerce, led by the Chamber of Commerce with 1-to-1 assistance provided after the webinars to bed-in the advice.
- The waiving of Council footpath licence fees for twelve months for Picton and Blenheim retail and hospitality businesses currently leasing footpath space, to ease the burden on those CBD businesses
Nadine Taylor says councillors were also asked to consider options around providing some form of free parking in the Blenheim and Picton CBDs for a period of time to support local retailers as they reactivated their trading in alert Level two.
“We know the next few weeks are critical for businesses in our CBDs and we want to do what we can to encourage Marlburians back into town, to stimulate spending and to boost those businesses affected by the Covid lockdown.”
“We are also looking at what support we can provide for some of our region’s commercial and community events, recognising these will be impacted by fewer visitors, less spending and more difficulty attracting sponsorship. This is in addition to the $1.2 million already approved to assist Marlborough’s key community facilities and our not-for-profit groups to keep operating.”
Councillor Mark Peters, who is also a TEAM group member and chairs Council’s Planning, Finance and Community Committee, says the funding Council will provide is not coming from rates but from the Emergency Events Reserve Fund.
“This was set up years ago to deal with natural and other disasters such as Marlborough is now facing.”
He says there may be other elements which emerge before the package is finalised next week.
“This is TEAM’s first phase economic response package designed to help keep local businesses going, prepare for a new tourism focus and send a strong message to the wider community about buying and supporting local.”
Councillor Taylor says Marlborough’s economic recovery is locally led and nationally supported.
“We are moving swiftly on this and everyone is playing their part for the good of Marlborough.”