Gi­ga­town al­ready hav­ing ef­fect

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TESSA JOHNSTONE

Porirua City Coun­cil will spend more than $152,000 on a year- long ul­tra­fast broad­band com­pe­ti­tion it may not win – but the mayor has ar­gued it’s money well-spent.

The Gi­ga­town contest, run by Cho­rus, sees ci­ties rack­ing up points via so­cial me­dia in hope of be­ing the city that gets a dis­counted rate on ul­tra­fast broad­band for its res­i­dents for three years.

Porirua City Coun­cil have spent $ 93,000 on the Gi­ga­town cam­paign so far – spent on ev­ery­thing from flags em­bla­zoned with the Gi­ga­town Porirua logo to an on­line game in which Porirua mayor Nick Leggett is chased by zom­bies – and an­tic­i­pated it would spend another $59,000 be­fore the end of the com­pe­ti­tion in Novem­ber.

Mayor Nick Leggett said the spend­ing was a drop in the bucket in the con­text of the an­nual mar­ket­ing and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment bud­gets of $2.2 mil­lion.

‘‘It aligns with the story we want to tell about Porirua – young, dy­namic, pro-business – and it’s money that was al­ready al­lo­cated to spend on mar­ket­ing and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,’’ he said. ‘‘ Frankly, the re­sults have been re­ally good.’’

Leggett said the cam­paign had gen­er­ated sig­nif­i­cant ‘‘buzz’’ on so­cial me­dia, pos­i­tive me­dia sto­ries about Porirua which had been lack­ing in the past, and had en­gaged the wider com­mu­nity by get­ting them in­volved in ac­tiv­i­ties like the Gi­ga­town video con­tests.

It was ‘‘business as usual’’ spend­ing, and be­cause the money was not al­lo­cated for other coun­cil-funded ac­tiv­i­ties such as in­fra­struc­ture up­grades, if it had not been spent on the Gi­ga­town cam­paign it would have gone on other mar­ket­ing and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

A coun­cil re­port tabled last week said although a win could re­sult in sub­stan­tial sav­ings for Porirua res­i­dents and bring eco­nomic growth, the value of a Gi­ga­town win could be di­luted by a faster roll-out of ul­tra­fast broad­band in other ci­ties. It could still be out of fi­nan­cial reach for the poor­est sec­tion of Porirua’s pop­u­la­tion, the re­port said.

Porirua Cham­ber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Holly Thomp­son would not com­ment on the amount spent with­out see­ing a full break­down, but said it was ap­pro­pri­ate for the coun­cil to have in­vested in the cam­paign as it had brought eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ben­e­fits re­gard­less of whether or not Porirua won.

‘‘What we have seen along the way is con­ver­sa­tions that we’ve been try­ing to have with the business com­mu­nity and with the broader com­mu­nity for years,’’ she said. ‘‘This has helped us have those con­ver­sa­tions [on in­fra­struc­ture, dig­i­tal lit­er­acy etc.] and en­gage peo­ple.’’

The Gi­ga­town fi­nal­ists will be de­cided by points on Septem­ber 15, after which five towns will restart the contest.

A win­ner will be an­nounced in Novem­ber. Porirua, the only North Is­land town left in the run­ning, is in fifth place.

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