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Wheels of commerce roll on

Since the last Business Quarterly we have had our AGM and Gisborne Chamber of Commerce has a new executive.

There has been plenty of discussion around all things water since the chamber released its wastewater report. Pursuing the potential use of recycled water is high on my priority list, regardless of contrary opinions — which bring with them healthy debate. From the chamber’s perspective, this discussion needs to continue and ultimately could transfer into a sustainable solution to the lack of water for irrigation on the Poverty Bay Flats, which will otherwise increasingly hold back our horticulture sector.

Heading into winter, conversations around the cost of power along with consideration of alternative energy sources are taking place. These are complex issues and the key player locally is community-owned Eastland Group, which recently announced a record $20.1 million profit. All involved should be congratulated on this excellent result. There is, however, concern in the business community over recent resignations from the Eastland Group board.

There are numerous employment opportunities across our region, which is an encouraging sign for domestic growth.

On the flip side, property prices have surged and rental homes are not easy to come by for many of those looking to relocate to Gisborne. I am informed that the building industry is flat out and, further, that it is not easy to secure local tradesmen/women as they are all really busy.

The council has been proactive in adding resources and improving efficiencies in its consents department. Is the time right to make it easier for developers to create more houses to meet demand? If yes, then who will do the building? We need more trade apprentices.

The town centre still has too many vacant shops. Chamber member retailers I have spoken to are optimistic that GDC will complete city centre enhancements before October and hopefully a significant increase in tourist numbers around the 250-year commemorations.

With CBD promotional agency “Heart of Gisborne” now located within Activate Tairawhiti, city retailers should see increased promotion via being an integral part of the economic development agency.

For employers who might be having difficulty finding the right skill-set to fill a position they have open, maybe more consideration could be given to matching an applicant’s other skills and experience that could be transferred across and developed to meet your requirements?

Business owners and managers tell me that in many cases they simply want reliability and honesty, backed with a positive work ethic. These are core basics for many employers.

Such comments were reinforced when the chamber asked members their views regarding the referendum on whether to legalise cannabis, to be held alongside the 2020 general election.

For many business people, the core basics are hard enough to find today without the potential for greater influence from any recreational drug.

The Government’s recent Wellbeing Budget has promised longer term wellness outcomes which will benefit all communities. For our local chamber businesses, there was nothing to get excited about — whether you are an employer or employee. Historically Budgets have delivered businesses with some form of incentive or assistance, or something for the employee. From a business perspective, this Budget was disappointing for our region.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based organisation and part of a network of more than 13,000 Chambers of Commerce internationally.

Our local chamber executive is led by president Paul Naske. The seven-member board welcomed Nikki Archdale at the AGM, and thanked retiring member Joe Martin for his many years of service.

If you would like to discuss your business and membership of the Gisborne Chamber, please get in touch with me: terry@gisborne.org.nz

Terry Sheldrake MNZM is chief executive of Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.

Terry Sheldrake