Quake rebuild offers opening

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 12:00 23/11/2012

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The Christchurch rebuild creates an opportunity for Marlborough to attract more businesses and skilled people to the region, says Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson.

Marlborough's warm weather, family friendly community and lifestyle had always appealed to families wanting to escape the rat race, Mr Dawson said. But the expected upswing of business from the rebuild may lure more professionals and businesses here.

"There's a $30 billion project happening four hours down the road from us, and our challenge is to figure out how we can contribute. Some people will want to move down to Christchurch, but there is a huge opportunity for Marlborough as a base to offer business services remotely."

Services such as IT, web design, advertising, marketing, business mentoring and social media consulting would be in huge demand and could all be delivered remotely as Christchurch businesses continued to get back on their feet, he said.

"The way we do business has changed. Work is where you are as opposed to a place you go to every day."

The key was delivering Marlborough's idyllic lifestyle and pro-business message to people with the expertise and drive to use the opportunities, he said.

"It's an upward spiral - the more people who come to the region, the more successful we'll be, which will make the region a more attractive proposition."

Safe Air general manager Heather Deacon came to Marlborough from Britain six years ago with her husband and two children in search of a slower pace of life.

The relaxed lifestyle, warm climate and stress-free commute had attracted many people to Marlborough to take up senior positions, she said.

"Quite a lot of people are interested in coming to Marlborough and willing to make the sacrifices for a better quality of life for themselves and their families."

Blenheim engineering firm Cuddon is already freighting pre-fabricated structural beams to Christchurch for repair work on the Pacific Tower building.

Chief executive Andy Rowe said Marlborough firms were in a position to benefit from the overflow of work created by the Christchurch rebuild, which would put pressure on other construction projects around the country.

"Fabricators from around the country will be providing structural steel for the rebuild, but at the same time there are other projects happening which we also see as an opportunity."

There were signs already that Christchurch companies were struggling to find skilled workers, he said.

However he expected a slow, steady increase in demand instead of a sudden upswing, and would hire staff as required, he said.

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"Not everyone wants to go to Christchurch, although if they are paying way-over-the-top rates it can be pretty attractive, but that just won't be sustainable."

FOR REAL

Career opportunities available in the Christchurch earthquake rebuild will be highlighted in Blenheim when the For Real recruitment bus rolls into town as part of its South Island tour on Thursday next week.

The recruitment tour has been organised by Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) which has identified the need for 900 people to rebuild roads and water systems damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes.

Training costs are met by Scirt and recruits are guaranteed work once they meet industry requirements.

The Scirt training programme has been developed in partnership with the infrastructure training organisation InfraTrain and industry members.

The bus will be in the northern car park at the Blenheim Railway station until 2pm on Thursday

- The Marlborough Express

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