More sales mean more recruiting for Southland firms

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 03/04/2014
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Poll: @devlincolle Southland businesses are quietly confident as increased sales create employment, a business survey shows.

More than 500 businesses, in a wide range of sectors, responded to the Venture Southland survey asking about employment trends, technology, challenges, pressures and opportunities in 2014.

The results show improving confidence in the region, with businesses employing more people this year, and 40 per cent planning to recruit new staff.

About half said sales were up, compared with 12 per cent whose sales hadn't climbed.

Challenges included finding and retaining skilled staff, cashflow, attracting new customers and online retailing.

Trade Minister Tim Groser, in Invercargill yesterday addressing key Southland exporters and business representatives, was also optimistic about the Southland economy.

During the past five years, the GDP of Southland had increased more than 41 per cent - making it the second-fastest-growing region in the country, he said.

Dairying and exports expansion had driven this growth, but there were also other elements.

"There is no reason why one should not be optimistic about Southland's development prospects."

When issues such as remoteness were sorted at a national level, Southland would be one of the most important beneficiaries regionally, he said.

The Government said yesterday designated blocks of land and sea would be made available to international companies for petroleum exploration.

The thought of striking oil in the Great South Basin was too exciting to talk about, he said.

The region should not to be too disappointed if it failed on the first go, because more attempts would be made.

"We think there is stuff there."

Another Government announcement yesterday said there would be more resources for exporters to China, South America and the Middle East. During the next four years, $69 million would go towards this and more economic development at home, which would be good news for Southland, he said.

Increasing the export orientation of New Zealand was the future of the country and the Southland region, he said.

New Zealand was in a good space with trade agreements but it was not just a China story - although that was the biggest and most important.

Groser had just returned from Chile and Colombia, where he and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy led an agribusiness delegation, which could be of interest to Southland.

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It was an effort to lift New Zealand's game in Latin America, he said.

Southland produced about 12 per cent of New Zealand's dairy output, and there was enormous potential for agriculture business in Southland to grow, especially as most people were working together to clean up the worst environmental impacts, he said.

 

- The Southland Times

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