Helping rebuild a win-win for region
Nelson builder Paul Brockie says helping the Christchurch rebuild isn't about swooping in to take business away.
As part of new Nelson business cluster Project, he is developing ways to help out from home.
His insulation company AbsoluteEnergy was also establishing a foothold in Christchurch and the rest of the South Island through working with an insulation company.
A merger to create AbsoluteEnergy Canterbury was on the cards. Administered from Nelson, the merger would see jobs for Cantabrians there and possibly an increase in Nelson administration staff.
Formed last year, Project markets the products and services of Nelson businesses involved in a broad range of construction, including designers, tradesmen and contractors, architects, and makers of household and housing products – "everything to do with putting a building together", says chairwoman Fiona Newey.
Ms Newey, who has been a business mentor with the Nelson Tasman Business Trust since 2003, said the cluster was visiting Christchurch to build relationships, letting them know that Nelson small-to-medium businesses could help by joining forces up north.
"It's saying: We would like to assist, please tell us what you want."
There were 18 businesses involved so far, and she wanted more.
"We really do need people to join who are very keen and actively promoting their business outside Nelson, and in Nelson, as a quality business."
Links to local training organisations were also crucial.
"If we build all this up, are we going to have new apprentices coming through? Companies need to know it's long term so they can invest in machinery and floor space and personnel."
Mr Brockie said Nelson businesses could take advantage of the rebuild, but the idea wasn't to compete.
"They're obviously a little bit protective down there, and want to look after people and make sure they can employ Cantabrians first," he said.
"We want to be a back-up resource. The idea is that we link up so when the panic button's hit we can manufacture here and send down."
Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency chairman Bill Findlater agreed. He didn't think many people would be leaving Nelson to work in Christchurch.
"I think we'll see some people going down there but I expect there'll still be business here that our local builders will be involved in. It won't be dramatic. The rebuild is still a long way off."
Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said the chamber was also interested in building capability in places such as Nelson to assist in the rebuild, in collaboration with Canterbury-based companies.
He cited a Blenheim joinery company building roof spars from Nelson timber, which were shipped to Christchurch daily.
"A real winning formula."
"That means the economic activity stays in those places but our rebuild is accelerated."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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