Busi­nesses in up­beat mode

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

Wanaka business op­er­a­tors are feel­ing con­fi­dent and many are keen to support more eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent survey.

The Wanaka Cham­ber of Com­merce’s six-monthly business con­fi­dence survey drew 56 re­sponses.

Chair­man Alis­tair King said nearly two thirds of re­spon­dents (62 per­cent) said the business sit­u­a­tion will im­prove in the next six months.

‘‘This is a sim­i­lar re­sult to the pre­vi­ous two sur­veys so a pos­i­tive trend is ev­i­dent,’’ King said.

More than half (56 per­cent) sup­ported the cre­ation of a ded­i­cated eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment po­si­tion for the town, while 36 per cent said ‘‘maybe’’ and 7 per cent did not support.

King said ca­pac­ity to pro­vide ser­vices was now emerg­ing as a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor lim­it­ing growth, with 31 per cent of busi­nesses in­di­cat­ing ca­pac­ity was a sig­nif­i­cant con­straint, up from 25 per cent a year ago.

Hir­ing skilled staff was get­ting ‘‘much harder’’ and un­skilled staff ‘‘a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult’’. Staff re­mu­ner­a­tion lev­els had in­creased broadly in line with in­fla­tion.

For the first time, busi­nesses were asked about the im­pact of com­pli­ance costs.

King said there was real con­cern th­ese costs have been noted as hav­ing the third high­est im­pact on business prof­itabil­ity, after staff costs and vis­i­tor num­bers.

Wanaka busi­nesses for the most part viewed the in­ter­net as hav­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact how­ever there were some busi­nesses for which the in­ter­net has had a neg­a­tive ef­fect.

‘‘There is a strong ap­petite from busi­nesses to take up Ul­tra Fast Broad­band when this roll­out is com­pleted, with more than 80 per cent of business in­di­cat­ing that they will up­grade,’’ King said.

The Wanaka Am­bas­sador Pro­gramme con­tin­ues to be well sup­ported, with 57 per cent of busi­nesses in­volved or in­tend­ing to be in­volved.

King said more than 30 per cent of busi­nesses are still con­sid­er­ing send­ing staff on the pro­gramme, so the num­ber of Wanaka Am­bas­sadors should con­tinue to rise this year. Fire safety in­ves­ti­ga­tors were in Wanaka yes­ter­day to ex­am­ine a Matai Rd house ex­ten­sively dam­aged in a chim­ney fire about 7am.

The house be­longs to well-known Wanaka woman, re­tired real es­tate agent, Jo Fitzhar­ris.

She and her son Peter No­let, who lived in a down­stairs flat, are safe and un­hurt.

But Fitzhar­ris’s house is ex­ten­sively dam­aged and a lot of her per­sonal prop­erty was de­stroyed.

No­let was clearly shocked. He said he lit a fire in his fire­place about 4.30am be­cause he was feel­ing cold.

He did not re­alise the chim­ney fire had started un­til he heard a cou­ple of loud bangs later in the morn­ing.

On in­ves­ti­gat­ing, he dis­cov­ered the up­stairs part of the house was filled with smoke and the wall near the chim­ney was glow­ing.

He woke his mother, called emer­gency ser­vices and tried to re­trieve per­sonal prop­erty.

The down­stairs flat re­ceived a lot of wa­ter dam­age, with the fire dam­age mostly con­fined to the up­per level.

He and neigh­bours spec­u­lated that a re­cent earth­quake could have dam­aged seals around the chim­ney.

Fitzhar­ris is stay­ing with her other son, Wanaka po­lice­man Greg No­let, and friends and neigh­bours have of­fered ac­com­mo­da­tion and support.

Wanaka Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade chief fire of­fi­cer Bruno Gal­loway said up to 25 fire fight­ers and two ap­pli­ances at­tended the fire.

mar­jorie.cook@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

Alis­tair King

Photo: MARJORIECOOK

Blaze: This house was ex­ten­sively dam­aged in a chim­ney fire yes­ter­day.

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