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