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Voice of business since 1877

The first Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1599 in Marseille, France as the “Chambre de Commerce”. The meeting was held in a room, a chambre, to talk about shared concerns in their businesses and the world of commerce in which they inhabited.

The Chamber of Commerce made it to New Zealand shores in the 1850s, with the Gisborne Chamber commencing in 1877. Despite the fact that a lot has changed since then, chambers still do much the same thing. Over the years chambers have helped businesses through the industrial revolution, two world wars and countless economic shocks, and they are playing a vital role helping businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic too. Through lobbying and campaigning activities, advice and support, networking and more, chambers really do come into their own in the toughest of times.

Faced with Covid-19, the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce put in place a plan to speedily make contact with and support members during this period of unprecedented uncertainty and concern, offering support and helping them to continue to do business where possible — a function which is vital to the region’s economic recovery from Covid-19. Bringing businesspeople together — to make introductions, to learn from and support one another, to exchange tips and ideas and, of course, to do business. Our chamber networking events are central to this and we continue to serve this purpose even as social distancing continues.

Of further interest is the “Tairawhiti Trade and Construction Survey 2020”, from which initial results are reported in today’s Business Quarterly. The Gisborne Chamber of Commerce has almost finished correlating the results and feedback received from the recently rolled-out survey which was sponsored by Civil Project Solutions and Trust Tairawhiti. We have really appreciated the many tradesmen and women who have given their valuable time to participate in this relatively short business survey, to hear their views around what is happening on the ground from their own perspective. The information being gathered will further assist the Gisborne chamber, Trust Tairawhiti and others to understand not only the success stories and initiatives but the different challenges currently being faced by the trades in this current business climate. Watch this space as the full results from the “Tairawhiti Tradie Survey 2020” will be made available soon.

Moving forward, the data collected will help towards opening up further important discussions in forming regional strategies to assist and support businesses here. One key theme from the feedback noted to date is that the trade industry in Gisborne is healthy, but a shortage of experienced and qualified staff is a major challenge faced by local companies in this sector at the moment.

Whether your business is just starting up, scaling up, innovating and exporting or simply trying to keep the lights on, the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce has a strong network and can help your business navigate through the best and worst of times.

Advocacy, business promotion, business support, inspiration, member-only offers, networking and training. These are just some of the ways the Chamber of Commerce is playing a key role in helping local businesses through this difficult time. Being a part of the chamber is perhaps more important now than it has ever been.

Together we are working to find a pathway out of this economic crisis and while we cannot purport to have quelled all the anxiety and uncertainty we are facing, we have been able to provide at least some comfort to many of our members.

■ Nikki Archdale is an executive member of the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.

Interested in joining the chamber? Connect, share and grow — raise your business profile locally and nationally. Contact Lena Bevan on 021 448 146 or lena@gisborne.org.nz for more information.

Nikki Archdale