Survey of workers elsewhere

Queenstown Lakes District Council has commissioned independent research to find out about people...
Queenstown Lakes District Council has commissioned independent research to find out about people who live in the district but earn or generate income elsewhere. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
While a visitor levy is seen as a panacea to Queenstown's many problems, there are moves afoot to create an economy that does not rely solely on the tourist dollar.

Queenstown Lakes District Council has commissioned an independent research project to find out more about people who live in the district but earn or generate income elsewhere.

The Remote Economy Project (REP) complements the work of Start Up Queenstown Lakes (SQL).

It has been developing relationships between the district's entrepreneurs, freelancers, angel investors, mentors, business owners, consultants and other people with cerebral skills.

Arrowtown-based researcher Kate Campbell has produced an online survey for the REP, which is open until April 26.

"We're keen to learn more about those people and establish whether they're interested in establishing a greater local economic connection," Ms Campbell said.

"That might be relocating a component of their business to the region, or employing local skills and talent.

"The ideal outcome is to diversify and create a more resilient local economy, which fundamentally means one not so reliant on tourism."

The survey report and recommendations will be published in June.

"The response in the first couple of days has been fantastic - I don't think we realise how many people live here doing incredible things, but fly under the radar.

"Some are happy to, but others when we tell them both local and national government are focused on building a more resilient local economy, realise they can make a difference."

The project is also supported by SQL.

SQL chief executive James Burnes said a vast amount of expertise in the district was not connected with the "innovators and start-ups operating here".

"We want to give those remote income earners a pathway to contribute their experience and networks to boost the district's entrepreneur community," Mr Burnes said.

He said there is "enormous under-investment" by the council in economic infrastructure.

"This study will reveal opportunities to engage and leverage an under-appreciated segment of our economy.

"I hope the outcomes of the study spark more urgency by councillors to prioritise the investment in economic development programmes that will pay dividends long into the future."

SQL is also launching an investor network and mentor/adviser platform.

QLDC economic development manager Peter Harris said 20% of respondents to last year's Quality of Life Survey said they travel outside of the district for work or education.

The project aims to understand their work and establish their appetite for getting involved locally.

"If this research finds people who are keen to have a greater local connection, we will work on the next steps," Mr Harris said.

To complete the survey, visit www.remoteeconomy.com.

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