The Lower Hutt Events Centre, which will officially be opened on Saturday 14 July, has employed more than 120 tradespeople to date and will provide employment and training opportunities for many locals.

Hutt City Council’s chief executive says the opening of the Events Centre complex and nearby hotel is exactly what Lower Hutt needs. “Ten years ago Council kicked off the Making Places programme to revitalise the Hutt CBD and has been steadily investing towards that vision. The Events Centre is our biggest project to date. It will be managed by USAR, who are also building a hotel, which will be a catalyst for more activity and development in the CBD,” says Tony Stallinger.

The complex, which includes the refurbished Town Hall, completes the rejuvenation of the civic precinct and will have significant flow-on effects for the local economy. Along with the four-star hotel, due to be completed in 2019, the centre will provide training and employment opportunities for a large pool of hospitality students and graduates from WelTec’s campuses in Petone and Wellington, says Ben Shadbolt, head of Whitireia and WelTec ’s Hospitality programme.

He says that each year between 300 and 400 students will be able to provide a skilled flexible part-time workforce, while gaining valuable work experience themselves. Along with catering facilities at the complex, a bistro named Tūtaki will be open seven days a week, with some evening opening hours planned as well. “We are looking forward to having a good partnership with USAR, the operators of the Events Centre. They are keen to engage with us and they understand the value of training and mentoring young people. The Events Centre is a fantastic opportunity for our students and tutors. No doubt this exposure will lead to further work opportunities,” Mr Shadbolt says.

USAR Commercial Assets Limited (USAR) has a commitment to training, mentoring and hiring local people, says Sunil Malik, General Manager of the Lower Hutt Events Centre.

As well as providing future training and employment, the Events Centre project and refurbishment of the Town Hall has employed up to 120 tradespeople at a time, says Scott Duncan, project manager for Naylor Love Construction Ltd.

A local himself, Mr Duncan says that many of the tradespeople and sub-contractors working on the project live in the Hutt Valley and have been very happy to be working on a four year project (including the upgrade of the Council building) close to home.

The Events Centre is owned by Hutt City Council and will be operated by USAR under a 20 year lease. The 60 room Sebel Hotel, along with the new Events Centre, is expected to have a total impact on GDP of $104 million over 20 years and provide up to 90 jobs per year.