Marlborough businesses are well placed to collaborate with Christchurch and help with the rebuild, says Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief Peter Townsend.
Businesses could best help by remotely providing the skills, resources and expertise needed as the Canterbury rebuild starts to gain momentum after the devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, Mr Townsend said yesterday.
"The scale of the rebuild is too big for this city to cope with alone," he said. "We will need outside assistance.
"With constraints on accommodation in Christchurch, Marlborough businesses would be best to stay in Marlborough and resource us from there."
The chamber is setting up a website, Collaborate Canterbury, by the end of February to help businesses considering contributing to the rebuild.
Providing remote services was the general message to a group of 25 Marlborough business people in Christchurch for two days to build relationships with civic and business groups involved in the rebuild.
It is the second phase of a project led by Marlborough District Council and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce to create opportunities for the businesses.
Robinson Construction owner Phil Robinson said demand for remote services reinforced the way his company could get involved.
"Remaining in Marlborough and providing support is ideal for us - our staff want to stay and it gives us the opportunity to grow the local economy," he said.
While slow to take off, the Christchurch rebuild is gaining momentum. Fletcher EQR communications manager Barry Akers said payouts to contractors had reached $1 billion as part of the earthquake repair work.
Fletcher, which has the government contract to manage the repairs of about 90,000 homes in Christchurch, was about a third of the way through the estimated $3b job, he said. But the total rebuild was expected to be much higher, with residential building expected to top $13b after five years.
There was a lot of discussion yesterday around the total projected cost of the rebuild, with the latest government estimates at $30b, but Christchurch experts think it is more likely to be between $35b and $40b.
While the cost continues to balloon, the expected time frame for the rebuild has also extended as insurance companies waited for geo-technical reports before making payouts.
Stronger Christchurch Rebuild Team general manager Duncan Gibb said early estimates of 25,000 workers required over two years had been eased back to about 15,000 workers over a more extended period.
"People are starting to talk and work in together a lot more, which is providing us with a much better idea of the time and labour force required."
- The Marlborough Express