Pair win battle in 'Silicon Gully'

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 16:52 22/11/2012
epic hub landscape
KIRK HARGREAVES

OPEN: The Enterprise Precinct Innovation Centre (Epic) was opened by science minister Steven Joyce today.

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A pair of Christchurch entrepreneurs overcame thieves, vandals, money worries and pouring rain to breathe new life into the earthquake-ravaged city centre.

In the teeth of a determined easterly, the swirling rattle of diggers and the passing clatter of trucks, the 18-month battle came to an end with the traditional cutting of a ribbon.

The Enterprise Precinct Innovation Centre (Epic) was officially opened by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today.

The campus-style offices for 18 technology companies in the city centre was the brainchild of Christchurch business owners Colin Andersen and Wil McLellan.

Andersen said it was important the new hub on the corner of Tuam and Mancester streets was built in the city centre.

''It's been a hell of a journey,'' he said.

"We really wanted to make a difference to the city centre. We could have had this project live six to nine months ago if we had done it outside of the city, but we really wanted to be in here.''

Andersen said construction on the $4.5 million project was delayed by about two months due to a very rainy winter.

Other challenges included ensuring the project was financially viable and people vandalising the building at night.

''We have been hit quite a lot. We have had to recruit overnight security guards. We now have a really good security system and lots of web cameras. We had people breaking in and smashing windows. We would find people scoping the building in the back alley at 3am a couple of times.''

Andersen has asked government and council officials to beef up police patrols in the area.

Joyce said the hub would help the city's recovery.

''This creates jobs and encourages people to come to the city,'' he said.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said more initiatives like the Epic hub were needed to bring Christchurch back to life.

''We have to do something unique here because the world is full of cities of about half a million people that are losing people to bigger cities,'' he said.''

If we don't use our imagination and creativity and rebuild a city where young people want to stay and come then we are dead in the water. We are seeing too many of our young people leaving the city to study elsewhere and seek careers elsewhere.''

Parker coined a new name for the area inspired by the famous  technology hub in California.

''It should be called Silicon Gully.''

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- The Press

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