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Doubts about council biz incubator going solo

Feb 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

HUTT mayors are worried about a Wellington Regional Council plan to make its “business incubator” unit a separate entity.

CreativeMAIN

The Mayors of both Hutt City and Upper Hutt say the proposal to make Creative HQ an independent council group could mean more cost for ratepayers, and they would like more evidence the move would attract more investment.

The recommendation – outlined in a regional council report by chief financial officer Barry Turfrey and general manager Jane Davis – goes before the regional strategy committee this week.

The report says the proposal is aimed to attract outside investment and help the unit expand throughout the region.

Creative HQ is part of Grow Wellington, the regional council’s economic development agency, and since opening in 2003 has worked with more than 60 Wellington businesses.

Mayor Guppy

Guppy

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy, a regional strategy committee member, says he has a few questions about the merits of making Creative HQ a separate entity from its parent organisation Grow Wellington,

Grow Wellington got $4.1 million from the regional council in the year ending June, 2009, as well as $1.33 million from other sources, mostly New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Mr Guppy says he wants to know whether Creative HQ is certain it can attract outside investment.

Hutt City Mayor David Ogden, also on the committee, says he supports what Creative HQ does but is not sure about separating it.

Mayor Ogden

Ogden

He is concerned about increased costs to the ratepayer from having to create a new board.

Creative HQ general manager Steve O’Connor says attracting outside investment could help them expand throughout the Wellington region.

He says the incubator helps give innovative entrepreneurs a kick-start in the business world and is delivering “great results” despite the recession.

Expanding the incubator is essential if the Wellington region wants to encourage growth and bring up the “next wave of superstars” in Wellington business.

He says Creative HQ has not yet engaged fully with possible investors, but they would most likely be institutions already involved in helping emerging businesses, rather than private investors.

He mentioned Victoria University’s commercialisation organisation, Viclink as a good example of a third party that could invest in Creative HQ.

However, Viclink commercialisation manager Sophie Howard says her organisation would not be able to make such an investment.

The regional council report recommends the council start the consultation process required by the Local Government Act for Creative HQ to become a stand-alone subsidiary of Grow Wellington.

If the committee agrees, there will be a period of public consultation and a final decision as early as June.

Creative HQ’s website claims that its alumni businesses are on average growing by 40% a year and have generated $45 million of economic value in 2008 and 2009.

One success story involves Womama, a company which makes lingerie for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The company won the 2009 award for best emerging business at the Wellington Gold Awards.

These celebrate businesses that have had a positive impact on the Wellington region. Run in association with the Dominion Post, they are judged by 40 business and community leaders from around the region.

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is an aspiring political journalist. I came up to Wellington after living in Dunedin all my life. I have a degree in politcal science and would love to be a political reporter.
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