Rebuild work opportunities identified

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 14:11 11/02/2013

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Marlborough businesses seeking opportunities in Christchurch have identified logistics and strengthening relationships as key to further progress.

A group of Marlborough businesspeople who travelled to Christchurch two weeks ago to meet people leading the rebuild discussed their findings on Friday.

The delegates were staggered by the scale of destruction which resulted from the earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011.

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce manager Brian Dawson identified logistics and strengthening the relationship with Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce as crucial to securing contracts in Christchurch.

Meetings are planned with KiwiRail and Toll New Zealand to discuss Marlborough's intentions, and the need for support to transport materials to Christchurch.

Although the initiative has been led by the chamber and council so far, it was important to set up a cluster of businesspeople to continue the drive, he said.

"We need to get together at least every couple of months to discuss successes, share any opportunities or roadblocks and figure out how to burst through barriers," he said.

He also cautioned businesses not to get carried away with big contracts without thinking about payment.

"We have to be very careful who we do business with."

Cuddon Engineering chief executive Andy Rowe said he had picked up a bit more work through Christchurch firm Fortis Construction since the trip to Christchurch.

However, they had to be very careful not to take on work beyond their expertise, he said.

"Getting the door open was the hard part, and the next part is understanding what we can do in a sustainable way."

The group also agreed on the importance of connecting with Marlborough youth through the colleges, to fill them in on the opportunities available to them through trades such as engineering or carpentry.

Former Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns, who had been integral to connecting Marlborough businesses with key players in Christchurch, said Marlborough had the jump on other regions.

Speakers at the forum in Christchurch had indicated the scale and efficiency of the labour and materials required for the rebuild, estimated to cost up to $40 billion, he said.

It could be worthwhile for businesses to think about collaborating with Nelson businesses to meet that demand, he said.

"The scale is such that there is some potential to link with businesses in Nelson. Christchurch want packages to provide integrated solutions . . . not one man in his truck."

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- The Marlborough Express

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