Business booming in the south

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN IN ALEXANDRA
Last updated 14:41 22/01/2014
Southland Times photo
JO McKENZIE-McLEAN/Fairfax NZ
Debbie McLew is the new publican of The Rock Bar and Grill in Central Otago.

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An economic light has been turned on in Alexandra, a business leader says.

Alexandra business group member Stu Mills said the business mood in the town recently had been ''very positive'' - particularly in the service industry.

''In the last three months it is like the economic light has been turned on. I have two new businesses looking at renting my building. One business is re-siting back from Cromwell. I have also talked to the VetLife business manager who tells me they have made Alexandra the main base for their business because it is in the centre of their business area.

''Rents have also come down and are cheaper than Queenstown, Cromwell and Wanaka.''

Many Alexandra business owners were at retirement age and, with the economy improving, it was an opportune time to hand over to the next generation, he said.

''Grant Ward Nissan sold to a young guy last year, Currie Motors sold to GWD Russells last year which shows confidence in Alexandra as a place to do business in.''

New business owners Lloyd and Philippa Melton recently moved to Alexandra from New South Wales, Australia, with their two young children.They brought the hairdressing salon Urban Edge Hair which they re-opened about a fortnight ago.

''We had always wanted to live in Central Otago because of the summers, we like the lifestyle and diversity and the fact it's not far to Queenstown or Dunedin and the lakes were a huge drawcard.''

Alexandra's business community was diverse, supportive and ''as good as anything you would find on High St in Auckland,'' Mr Melton said.

''We visited here in June last year and looked through salons and was majorly impressed. For a small town, it has got a lot of big town things, but still small enough to have a small town feel which is what we wanted our kids to be brought up in.''

Mrs Melton, who has been hairdressing for 23 years, said Alexandra was a perfect place for hairdressing business - particularly with the large number of vineyards attracting potential wedding clients.

There has been a need here in Alexandra and the surrounding communities to have something a little bit more upmarket to just going to the barber down the street.

''We have had people come in a lot from Dunedin and other parts of Otago who want to come here for their wedding but they feel they cannot get their hair or makeup done because is was a small town and no-one was promoting it.''

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The pair planned to promote wedding packages, as well as start apprenticeships, Mrs Melton said.

''I think putting back into an industry is a good way of keeping an industry strong as well.''

New Alexandra publican Debbie McLew said she was looking forward to giving people another drinking hole and eatery at her new establishment The Rock Bar and Grill which she hopes to open by the end of this month.

''We want to concentrate on the restaurant side.''I like to think (Alexandra) is going to get ahead. It's a lovely place.''

The opening of the Tarbert St pub had been set back by an arson earlier this month.

- The Mirror

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