By Laura Mills
Development West Coast has returned to profit, slashed the use of consultants and increased administration costs, while also reducing its loans portfolio.
It is a very different trust than a year ago. Chief executive Chris Mackenzie is a year into his two-year appointment; Renee Rooney replaced John Sturgeon as chairman, and the local body elections last year saw further changes in trustees - Brent Oldham in Buller, and Rooney in Grey - with Dame Julie Christie appointed as the West Coast councils' representative.
The financial year saw DWC approve commercial finance to 18 businesses totalling $12.3 million. The previous year it approved 20 loans valued at $14.4 million.
It also increased the value of its total assets to $129m and group assets to $146.8m. From a deficit two years ago, the trust returned to a profit of $5.3m.
Asked about the reduced loans, chief financial officer Mark Dawson said they distributed funds based on the applications.
Administration costs rose to $1.27m, up from $1.006m. The chief executive was paid $223,000, and the trust had 11.5 staff members at its Greymouth headquarters.
Operation costs are stable and consultant costs have halved to $63,000, reflecting the decision to use consultants only when necessary.
Mackenzie said a priority had been to "grow" the trust fund. Equity investments returned $14.8 per cent for the year, with international markets providing most of those gains.
If the trust's equity had kept pace with inflation it would have $130m now rather than the current $117m, he said.
Loans are generally confidential, but did include Westport's Chris J Coll surveying to purchase a jetboat and offer hydrographic services.
The Harper Park Early Learning Centre in Hokitika did not meet the criteria but was able to access a business mentor.
DWC claims its district economic stimulus fund - distributed through the three district councils - helped create 25-30 new jobs, but gave no details.
Fox Glacier received $1m for a new community centre and the Hokitika RSA $400,000 for a new hall, as part of major district initiative funds. The Hari Hari Community Centre received $455,000 and O'Connor Home in Westport $100,000.
Mackenzie said the 2016-17 year saw DWC generate revenue of $10.5m.
"I am pleased to be able to see that we are making an impact financially, creating more opportunities for business and industry on the West Coast.
"We are planning for the future with investment already earmarked to support our regional growth through a range of projects, some of which are identified in the regional growth study action plan," Mackenzie said.
The end of year profit of $5.3m would help DWC to deliver on those plans and projects, and continue to create a positive impact in the wider West Coast community, Mackenzie said.
- Greymouth Star