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The Influencers: Leeann Watson


CANTERBURY EMPLOYERS’ CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Ngā mihi o te tau hou Happy new year! As I write my first Metropol column of 2021, I strongly believe the year ahead is full of possibility.

We have come off the back of a tumultuous year, our lives upended by Covid-19 heralding a new normal in the way we live, and the way we conduct business.

Almost overnight, there was a change in what was possible, with many shifting to remote working, virtual learning and online shopping.

There was also not the predicted economic freefall. After the initial shock, economic activity proved far stronger and more persistent than first thought.

Many key sectors fared better than expected, with the city seeing an overall spending increase of 4 percent for December 2020 to $604m compared with the same month last year.

Spending in the central city was up 9 percent to $51m for the same period. Domestic visitor spend was also up 20 percent, reaching $54m (although unable to offset the 76 percent drop in international spend).

As we leave the holiday season it is important we continue to honour the mantra of buy and support local, and embrace our uniqueness, building on existing strengths and stay willing to incorporate new approaches.

If we leverage Covid-19 as a catalyst for positive change, we can accelerate our transformation to a more productive and sustainable economy, living up to the promise of a happy and prosperous new year.


 

The Influencers: Leeann Watson


Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

As I write my final Metropol column of the year, the last twelve months seem to have flown by.

And what a year it has been – one that none of us could have predicted and one we certainly won’t forget in a hurry.

So I’m pleased to be able to end the year on a positive note. The latest in retail spending suggests our community is heeding the call to support local and to spend to accelerate our economic recovery.

In October, more than half a billion dollars was spent at local retailers and eateries – an increase of seven percent from the same month last year.

Spending in the central city also increased for the same period, up 12 percent to $39 million. This shows that despite Covid-19, consumer confidence is high.

I have no doubt this trend will continue over the summer, with several events coming up which will help to support our economy.

Such as the University of Canterbury graduation ceremonies currently underway, the Bread & Circus Backyard Buskers Festival in mid-January, the Council’s SummerTimes events programme, and the cricket (a personal favourite!).

Not to mention the Great Kiwi Beer Festival at the end of January, and the Nostalgia Festival in February.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of these events – and support our local businesses in the process.

With Christmas just around the corner, I wish you Meri Kirihimete (Merry Christmas) and a safe summer season.


 

The Influencers: Leeann Watson


Through our Canterbury Business Champions campaign, we have heard some amazing stories of innovation, nimbleness, determination, collaboration and kindness, and together celebrated what it is that makes our business community so unique.

While in a “normal” year we would showcase our local champions at our Westpac Champion Business Awards, given the uncertainty of running events during Covid-19, this year we evolved the celebration and took it online to collectively champion all businesses – as there has never been a better time to share positive stories about our business community than right now.

This provided a great platform to be able to share some of the region’s best kept secrets.

Such as 27Seconds, a local wine producer that gives away 100 percent of the organisation’s profits to help survivors of slavery.

Or out-of-school care provider MASH Kids that during lockdown adapted by creating MASH Nannies and Babysitters.

And motorcycle touring company South Pacific Motorcycle Tours which used to cater solely to international tourists, but now offers motorcycle servicing and repairs, rentals, and a maintenance workshop, as well as organising events and tours.

These stories demonstrate the innovation and drive that Waitaha Canterbury has become known for.

Congratulations to the winners of the $18,000 of spot prizes, including three advertising vouchers worth $5000 each from Mediaworks and The Press, and three $1000 Air New Zealand Travel Vouchers.

Finally, a big thank-you to everyone who shared a story – you can view the collection of stories at canterburybusinesschampions.com.


 

The Influencers: Leeann Watson


Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

We’re celebrating Canterbury business champions! Kei te whakanui tātou i ngā pakihi kairangi o Waitaha!

While the last few months have been challenging, we have also heard some amazing stories of innovation, nimbleness, determination, collaboration and kindness, so we wanted to provide a platform to share those stories.

That’s why Westpac and The Chamber are so excited to bring you our new Canterbury Business Champions campaign.
Your business champion could be your own team that has introduced a new wellbeing initiative or new product or service, or another a business you work with that has innovated to make the most of a market opportunity. It might even be a shout-out to a local business operator who provides a great customer experience.

From great feats to small tokens – whatever you think makes a business champion – we
want to hear from you.

Share your story – tohaina mai ōu kōrero – visit www.canterburybusinesschampions.com.

All individuals who share a story will go in the draw to win one of three advertising vouchers, worth $5000 each, from Mediaworks and The Press or one of three $1000 Air New Zealand Travel Vouchers.

Thanks to: Lead Partner Westpac, Creative Partner Harvey Cameron Group, Radio Partner Mediaworks, Print Partner The Press and Channel Partner ChristchurchNZ; Campaign Partners Christchurch City Council, and Lyttelton Port Company; and Campaign Supporters Kordia PLC, Christchurch Casino, Air New Zealand, and Export New Zealand Canterbury.

The campaign runs until November 6, so get in quick! Together, let’s celebrate and champion our local businesses and businesspeople. We’re all in this together — he waka eke noa.


 

The Influencers: Joanna Norris


ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive

The second wave of Covid-19 has dealt the country a psychological blow alongside the economic and social impacts we are still experiencing from the first outbreak.
Ōtautahi Christchurch’s Socio-Economic Recovery Plan anticipated community transmission was likely and remains the basis for how we respond to these impacts. Our sights are firmly set on the immediate aim of supporting businesses and saving and growing jobs and, over the longer term we are building a foundation to reposition the city for a smart, sustainable future to ensure intergenerational wellbeing.
Already we’ve seen the delivery of several initiatives from the plan; including the recent partnership with the University of Canterbury (UC) Business School and Ara Institute of Canterbury and Ministry of Awesome through the Te Ōhaka – Centre for Growth & Innovation, to deliver an all-of-city approach to innovation.
Start-ups and businesses with high growth potential now have even more support, advice, networks, mentoring and access to investor and commercial networks here and overseas.
The Ministry of Awesome will be the home for early-stage start-ups – their Incubation Programme and wealth of other start-up support will grow our best ideas into business opportunities.
ThincLab at UC will focus on high growth ventures, providing further incubator support and connecting businesses with the best local, national and international expertise to fast-track their growth.
Without a doubt, you can expect to see great things come out of the city’s innovation ecosystem over the next year.

 


 

The Influencers: Joanna Norris


ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive

The latest retail data shows Christchurch tentatively returned to pre-COVID-19 spending levels.

This is welcome news for our recovering economy, but it is sustained growth which we continue to work towards, as we know the sugar rush of post-lockdown spending may not last.

Retail spending in Christchurch increased by 4 percent during June 2020, compared to the same period last year – led by growth in sectors including home, hardware and electrical (up 26 percent) and apparel and personal (up 16 per cent).

But, perhaps the most encouraging news was the 13 percent increase in spending by residents in the central city – one of the city’s areas hardest hit by the loss of the international visitor market.

Here at ChristchurchNZ we continue to build on this bedrock of support by extending the invite to people from around New Zealand to visit Ōtautahi Christchurch and explore our city, region and the wider South Island.

From the wild West Coast to the bays of Banks Peninsula, from whale watching in Kaikōura to heavenly hot pools and skiable slopes – we sit in the centre of a treasure trove of destinations and attractions.

But it doesn’t stop there, over the winter months we’ve been working with partners across the city to prepare a spring season of social, cultural and sporting events events.

Our BLOOM programme will return in 2020 to entertain residents and domestic visitors alike and add further stimulus to our economic growth and recovery.


 

John Bridgman

The Influencers: John Bridgman


Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

It seems the recent extended stay within the confines of our own homes has led many people to consider whether the grass might be greener over by Rauora Park, where Fletcher Living is experiencing a surge in interest in its One Central homes, post-lockdown.

Of the 172 homes currently on offer, ranging from one-bedroom apartments through to four-bedroom townhouses, 100 have now been sold.

As the number of residents has grown, so has the sense of community. Many people are notably excited by the fact they will be living on the doorstep of the Canterbury Multi-Use Arena, with its All Blacks and big acts.

With more than half of the existing homes now sold, Ōtākaro and Fletcher Living are in the thick of working out what comes next, but rest assured the future development sites will not be sitting idle.

In August, Fletcher Living’s placemaking partner, Gap Filler, will be holding the Good Vibes Winter Festival in the area, which will be followed by the A&P City Farm in November and, naturally, a Christmas Carnival in December.

Add to the mix record low home loan rates and the next few months offer a great opportunity to scope out what living in central Christchurch looks like. And let’s face it, any excuse to get
out of the house these days is a welcome one.


 

The Influencers: Leeann Watson


Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

As we head into the home straight of the general election, and given the challenges of the current COVID-19 environment, it has never been more important to be fully informed and engaged in the election process, to play a real part in shaping the future of our country for the better.

General elections traditionally attract positive voter turnout.

In 2017, the total number of votes cast nationally was 2,630,173 with a turnout of 79.8 percent of enrolled voters – the highest since 2005.

The enrolment rate was 92.4 percent which is also very positive. This shows that there is a strong interest in national politics.

However, this engagement in the process is wasted if that decision-making is not well-informed.

Just as there is a lot of information out there; so too is there a lot of mis-information, so finding a trusted conduit of information is vital.

Providing the opportunity for two-way engagement between key political parties and local employers is one of the ways that we, as an Employers’ Chamber, can help to cut through that noise.

We also advocate on issues that impact local businesses and the livelihoods of our community, such as the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy.

We are so fortunate to have a strong democratic process that we owe it to ourselves to make the most of it.

I would encourage you to get informed on the issues that will impact you, your family, and your livelihood.

Our central Government should represent the whole country, but that won’t happen if we don’t involve ourselves in the process.


 

The Influencers: Joanna Norris


 

ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive

We’ve got a one billion dollar opportunity waiting for us.

One billion is the amount spent on overseas tourism that Canterbury has the opportunity to retain, according to a report from Deloitte.

The figure is calculated by estimating how much outbound tourists spend overseas and apportioning this to each region, based on population.

This produces an estimate of how much spend could be redirected into the domestic market.

If Kiwis who would usually holiday overseas redirect some of their spending locally we have the opportunity to soften the economic blow to the visitor sector, keep businesses open and people in jobs – to the tune of one billion dollars.

Pre COVID-19, the 8,800 businesses in Canterbury’s tourism sector employed close to 70,000 people and contributed $4.9 billion to Gross Domestic Product – tourism represented one of the largest potential areas for growth.

It’s not hard to see why – Ōtautahi Christchurch has a growing reputation as a basecamp for exploration where visitors can explore nature’s playground from surf to summit, but also enjoy the flavour of NZ’s newest city and the gastro, cultural and scenic smorgasboard in between.

Over the coming months ChristchurchNZ will be working closely with local and national partners to leverage these unique selling points, to showcase our city and region to locals and invite Kiwis to explore all we have to offer.

We know our corner of New Zealand is one of the best and we’re ready to welcome visitors here and show them the spirit and beauty of Ōtautahi.


 

The Influencers: John Bridgman


 

Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

 

Construction is back up and running at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre after a shutdown during the COVID-19 restriction period.

Work kicked off again at Level 3 with a smaller team and strict social distancing requirements, and as we return to the city it is brilliant to see how quickly the building façade is progressing along Oxford Terrace.

The pandemic is affecting the business events industry worldwide and we are not immune to that.

The centre’s Business Development team has been working closely with affected clients to reschedule their events to a later date, which has kept most of these events in Christchurch.

General Manager Ross Steele has advised they now have 67 events confirmed for Te Pae Christchurch, which is a 30% increase on the number of bookings at the end of 2019.

These are projected to bring over $40 million of economic benefit to the city.

Understandably, given the current climate, eight upcoming events have been cancelled due to uncertainty around travel and the delayed completion of the building.

When the venue opens, personal safety is likely to still be at the front of people’s minds.

The hygiene and safety standards being used will be consistent with other venues around the world managed by our venue operator, ASM Global.

In business as usual, an exceptional local winery, Sherwood Estate Wines, has secured the first major supply contract.

Supporting the city’s economic and social recovery is one of Te Pae Christchurch’s key objectives and they tell me they expect to sign up more local suppliers shortly.