The right know 'Howe' crucial for SPA

The chief executive of the Surfers Paradise Alliance is confident of steering the organisation into prosperity following a public stoush between its chairman Graeme Downie and Division 7 councillor Susie Douglas.

COUNCILLOR Susie Douglas, a former SPA board member and Graeme Downie, the chairman of the crumpled City Pacific, are embroiled in a rift over management issues and future funding at SPA. A board restructure is imminent as Downie and Gold Coast City Council chief executive Dale Dickson meet to discuss its future. But Alliance CEO Rowena Howe is adamant it can move ahead.

“The organisation has got a strong strategy,” says Howe.

“Our aim is to increase economic prosperity. I would hope that the general consumer can see past the events that have transpired. There is a focus on us raising additional funds outside council funding and to continue to secure funding for our events. We are scrupulous in the way that we spend.”

The alliance has launched a business advertising initiative to provide a platform for local business to align with its brand and cotton onto marketing objectives.

“I think it’s important to note that we are funded by the businesses in Surfers Paradise, not the rate payer,” says Howe.

Howe is the third chief executive appointed to the role following the resignations of Liliana Montague and Richard Holliday.

“I like to think that I have achieved some stability in the SPA after 15 months as CEO and we have created a five-year plan,”
she says.

City finance boss Cr Eddy Sarroff has cited issues with the alliance and investment. The tourism and events organisation was handed $3.278 million last year. The figure will be matched this year plus CPI of 4 per cent.

“As a public private partnership, we are always susceptible to the political environment, but the management team and the board accepts that,” says Howe.

The five SPA board members are Downie, Howe, hotel operator Greg Cox, Surfers Paradise chamber of commerce president Laura Younger and bungy jump operator Gary Wachter.

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