Dunedin hot/cold at rebuild openings

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 22/03/2014

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Some Dunedin construction firms are eyeing up opportunities in the Christchurch rebuild, but others "don't want a bar of it".

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said that was the feedback after a quake recovery roadshow led by Christchurch Central Development Unit between mid-February and early March.

He said there had been a variety of responses from Otago to rebuild opportunities.

"It's very dependent on where each of those businesses sees their growth potential. So for some they're seeing Christchurch as an opportunity to grow their business . . . and some businesses locally have said we don't want a bar of it.

"Some who have sent staff there have said it's just too hard, too expensive and not enough return . . . pay rates that are going through the roof, there are all sorts of issues that they have faced."

Other workers had already done some commuting to Christchurch, but given they had family in Dunedin, "they just get fed up with it", he said.

Canterbury business leaders have previously talked up the need to outsource some of the rebuild work to other regions.

And there are already some concrete and timber supplies making their way into the rebuild city, particularly from around the south.

CCDU director Warwick Isaacs said roadshow meetings in Dunedin, Invercargill, Queenstown Nelson, Wellington and Auckland had already drawn positive feedback.

The roadshow was designed for people unaware of what stage the rebuild was at, or the opportunities ahead, Isaacs said.

He said given that road transport to Christchurch was reasonably simple there was an emphasis on the regions contributing to the rebuild by supplying concrete, including tilt-slab panels, and fabricated steel.

"We were talking to a lot of people out of the construction industry: designers, architects, QS companies, prefabrication people. We met with electrical and mechanical suppliers," Isaacs said.

"It's actually already happening. I understand from Nelson there's a truck and trailer coming down each day with timber that's already put into framing.

"An Ashburton company is doing precast concrete work being shipped here."

CCDU worked with regional chambers of commerce on the roadshow format.

Nelson/Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dot Kettle said about 50 business people from the region attended with the aim of becoming more involved with the rebuild.

"[Members] are not quite sure where the pace of the recovery is at, so it was a really good update in terms of both giving us an idea of the scale of the anchor projects . . . [and] what the projected timeline is for the various initiatives."

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Christie agreed it was a timely presentation by CCDU.

"Obviously there are a number of contractors and tradespeople, companies here that are interested in where those opportunities might lie."

Isaacs said the anchor projects were broadly on target with previously announced timelines, but with care being taken so they did not become "white elephants".

There was also a conversation about labour needs in Christchurch "We made the point we weren't there to sort of filch the local workforce or decimate the capacity in the local environment," Isaacs said.

In total about 450 attended the nine sessions, Isaacs said.

Other presenters included CCDU deputy director Baden Ewart, and investment facilitator Murray Cleverley.

Property investor Antony Gough attended the Auckland sessions to woo tenants for his riverside "Terrace" retail and office development.

"He was able to describe what his overall developments were. I understand he was quite inundated with potential tenants," Isaacs said.

- BusinessDay

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