Engineering firm sets up base in Christchurch

A Southland businessman is "dipping his toes" into the Christchurch rebuild market and more Southland businesses are set to follow his lead.

Walker Group chief executive Bill Walker has opened an e-type engineering office in the Garden City.

Mr Walker said it made good business sense to base an office where most of the engineering work was located.

"You have got to have a toe in the water," he said.

So far he had hired three staff to work in the city and hoped to grow the Hornby-based business.

He planned to scout for work and tenders in the city and do the work in Southland, he said.

His plan was similar to that of the Southland Supply Initiative organised by Venture Southland.

More than 200 Southland businesses had committed to the initiative, which would result in labour and services from the region directed to Christchurch but at the same time remain based in the south.

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Richard Hay praised Walker.

"He has created the perfect model and spearheaded the idea . . . Other Southland businesses and services should talk to him about how to establish themselves within the Christchurch business community," he said.

Hay said the efforts of Walker and the Southland Supply Initiative, bringing work back to Southland, were important for its economic growth.

However, a new website set up by Collaborate Canterbury, asking for resources and more people from throughout New Zealand, was concerning for the Initiative.

The website was similar to the supply Initiative, connecting Southland businesses with Canterbury companies.

However, Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said the websites would be merged.

Venture had funding to hire a fulltime Southland Supply Initiative co-ordinator for at least one year.

Venture Southland group manager enterprise and strategic projects Steve Canny said the Southland Supply Initiative was gathering pace.

Nick Morris Engineering owner Nick Morris said his Invercargill company had tendered for some work with one of the major construction companies. He predicted the work would start ramping up from the middle of this year.

The Southland Times