Plea to 'lock young people into city'

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 08:04 11/10/2012

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Christchurch needs young people and Canterbury businesses have a duty to offer good career options to keep them in the Garden City, the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce says.

Speaking at the chamber's annual meeting at The Court Theatre yesterday, chief executive Peter Townsend said young people were beginning to find the city had places for them to drink and enjoy themselves.

In addition, they were seeing opportunities for establishing careers, and businesses needed to capture that for the long haul, he said.

"We have a responsibility as employers in this city that we lock these young people into this city."

The region was entering the "opportunity phase" of the recovery, he said. It would take a long time to rebuild the city, "but that doesn't mean we're standing to the side with our head in our hands".

Christchurch people needed to get involved and embrace the recovery, with each doing their small part to boost the region's economy across the board, he said.

Rather than a slip in membership after the earthquakes, numbers had remained firm, which was encouraging for business in Canterbury, he said. The chamber planned to strengthen and return to its Kilmore St offices by Christmas next year and it wanted to develop an adjoining property as well.

The chamber had done well financially, making a surplus of $129,651 in the year to June, compared with the previous year's $134,283 loss.

Total members' funds at balance date was almost $4 million, up from $3.8m last year.

"It's been an interesting year, a challenging year, but a good year," he said.

Guest speaker, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, said the post-quake resilience of Canterbury businesses was one of the saviours of the region.

New Zealand, with its growth of about 2 per cent, remained relatively strong in a lacklustre global economy, Brownlee said.

Canterbury's growth was running at about 4.4 per cent, according to a recent economic survey, which was a level of regional growth not seen for five years, he said.

"It's a very exciting time to be in business in Christchurch. I think we're on track to build the best small city in the world.

"Everyone has made sacrifices, we'll have to make more concessions moving forward, but all this has been done in a co-operative environment," he said.

The Government had identified water as "crucial to growth", particularly on the Canterbury Plains, and the $500 million Fonterra milk plant at Darfield was an example of where the Kiwi economy was headed, he said.

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Chamber president Peter Davie said it had been a busy year for the chamber and its 34 staff as it adapted to the post-quake environment.

- The Press

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