Firms still strug­gling

Build­ing and re­tail try­ing to bounce back

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By CHE BAKER

Cen­tral Otago’s pri­mary pro­duc­tion sec­tor is claw­ing its way back from the dis­as­trous blow it re­ceived af­ter the 2008 eco­nomic down­turn, but the build­ing and re­tail in­dus­tries are con­tin­u­ing to strug­gle. At a Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Coun­cil meet­ing in Alexan­dra on Mon­day coun­cil­lors dis­cussed what it could do sup­port busi­nesses to keep shops open. Coun­cil eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment man­ager War­wick Hawker said a BERL re­port showed that 2012 was a ‘‘re­cov­ery pe­riod’’ for the re­gion af­ter the eco­nomic cri­sis of 2008 to 2011. Cen­tral Otago per­formed well above re­gional and national av­er­ages in seven of eight key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors, such as GDP and em­ploy­ment in­creases. It lagged be­hind only in the growth of new busi­ness units. Last year the pri­mary pro­duc­tion sec­tor con­trib­uted $251 mil­lion to the Cen­tral Otago econ­omy, up 40 per cent from a year ear­lier. Em­ploy­ment in the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try, which makes up the bulk of the dis­trict’s pri­mary

sec­tor, rose by 182 full-time equiv­a­lent jobs. The stone­fruit grow­ing in­dus­try in Cen­tral Otago gen­er­ated 136 of those full­time equiv­a­lent jobs. Es­ti­mated GDP con­tri­bu­tion from this sec­tor grew by 40.3 per cent (up $72 mil­lion) but it was noted the es­ti­mate could be over­stated and it was more like 30 to 40 per cent, Mr Hawker said. How­ever, other re­cov­ery still frag­ile, he said. Con­struc­tion GDP con­tri­bu­tion fell $8 mil­lion (down 8.5 per cent from 2011) which was largely due to a 15.4 per cent de­crease in the in­dus­tries’ re­mained con­struc­tion in­dus­try. Cen­tral Otago had a de­crease in busi­ness unit growth brought on by the de­cline in the num­ber of busi­nesses in the con­struc­tion sec­tor. The Christchurch re­build was only start­ing to kick off and it was go­ing to be a chal­lenge for the build­ing and con­struc­tion sec­tor to re­tain staff in Cen­tral Otago, Mr Hawker said. Mr Hawker had been told of a group of back­pack­ing orchard work­ers who worked for a cou­ple of days then headed to Christchurch to push wheel­bar­rows for con­sid­er­ably more pay, he said. Cr Martin McPher­son said it was ob­vi­ously a hard time for retailers and ‘‘a lot have got their head in the sand’’ when it comes to of­fer­ing a dif­fer­ence and com­pet­ing on­line. ‘‘Coun­cil takes a lot of crit­i­cism not do­ing any­thing about it,’’ he said. Strate­gies and pro­grammes needed to be put in place so busi­nesses could set high ser­vice de­liv­ery stan­dards and of­fer a point of dif­fer­ence, he said. Mr Hawker said the eco­nomic di­vi­sion of coun­cil would be ex­plor­ing is­sues in the ‘‘chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment’’. ◗ For the full re­port go to south­land­ ◗ The con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod for the coun­cil’s draft eco­nomic and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment strat­egy closes on July 12. It is not closed, as noted in last week’s Mir­ror.

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