Council cash puts centre on its feet

Tuapeka-Lawrence Community Company chairwoman Mel Foster and treasurer Bernie Bader outside the...
Tuapeka-Lawrence Community Company chairwoman Mel Foster and treasurer Bernie Bader outside the organisation’s Lawrence Information Centre this week. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
A community hub previously under threat is looking towards a sustainable future, thanks to Clutha District Council intervention.

The Tuapeka-Lawrence Community Company (TLCC) operates Lawrence’s information centre, and two years ago expressed concerns it would have to close the facility permanently, due to increasing financial difficulties.

In September 2018, TLCC chairwoman Mel Foster said the centre and its governing company were "plodding along into crisis".

Mrs Foster released the company’s annual report last week and in it said, despite the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, it was in "a much stronger financial position".

Yesterday, she told the Otago Daily Times the centre’s turnaround was down mainly to an increase in council funding of $15,000 a year.

"The funding has been a life-saver.

"Alongside that, our volunteer team, working with treasurer Bernie Bader, has identified several cost savings, allowing us better to balance the books."

These included significant reductions in printing costs.

Mr Bader said the changes meant that the company was

no longer "draining assets" to pay its way.

"An information centre is so important to a place like Lawrence, as it’s a focal point right in the town’s heart for visitors to stop to find out more, then radiate out to spend at local businesses."

Its significance was only underlined by the latest visitor statistics, he said, which showed a 340% increase in people staying overnight in the town this winter.

"We’re up for July and August from 20 to 68 overnight visitors, and many of those are using the information centre as their first port of call."

Mrs Foster said securing the centre’s future also allowed the company to focus on other community activities.

"We’re hiring a new community co-ordinator at present, and part of their and our wider role as TLCC is to continue promoting Lawrence and the district as a tourist destination.

"We’ll also be looking to see where we can help with some of the community plan projects emerging from the council’s recent consultation."

Mrs Foster praised TLCC’s many volunteers.

"They do a fantastic job. And we’re always looking for more."


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