There’s been a lot of comment on business confidence, which hit a seven-year low last month.
While it’s easy to dismiss confidence as just sentiment, fact is it does have an impact on economic growth through the investment and employment decisions businesses make.
We can debate the various drivers of the numbers, but the biggest factor in my opinion is uncertainty; businesses need certainty to invest. Right now, they don’t have that certainty.
Whether it is around immigration changes and the impact this has on finding skilled workers, proposed changes to employment legislation, or the changing nature of overseas investment and ownership rules impacting our reputation as an investment destination, the signals from policy-makers are unclear.
Coupled with the decision around the oil and gas sector and we begin to see a picture that results in lack of confidence. There is a real risk to the pipeline of projects coming to market across many sectors, including commercial and residential building and the much-needed infrastructure investment to support our growing population and tourism numbers.
This takes a toll on businesses which require stability and certainty. While businesses understand the need for change and are incredibly resilient and adaptable, sound policy that enables and supports business growth, is essential.
Everyone supports the Government’s goal of developing a nimble, productive, high-growth economy. But we need a clearly defined strategy and sound policy to create the certainty and stability to enable the innovation, growth and investment we need to create a stronger New Zealand.
Living in Christchurch should offer an experience comparable to other major cities and that which is expected of the second largest city in NZ. That’s why we need to commit to building a multi-use stadium.
The economic and social benefits of a vibrant sporting and contemporary events calendar are considerable, as evidenced in Dunedin by Ed Sheeran: sixty thousand visitors over a weekend, with an estimated $34m of economic benefit.
The benefits would be even greater if the stadium was capable of hosting both high-profile sports events and concerts, trade shows and other major events. That’s why it needs a roof, as its location in the residential East Frame and modern noise standards, combined with the harsh Canterbury winters, mean its viability as a multi-use facility is limited if it is not enclosed.
The vibrancy of the new central city is starting to develop. We have amazing retail and hospitality developments including The Crossing, The Terraces, the soon-to-open Hoyt’s development and the city’s anchor tenant Ballantynes. New facilities such as the central library and the Margaret Mahy playground are strong reasons to visit the central city.
Attracting people to visit is a must for businesses who have invested in the city and we need to support them. A new, covered, multi-use arena will take the city to a new level, not only by hosting events that will provide access to top notch sporting and cultural entertainment, but also by bringing people and economic activity from wider Canterbury and the greater South Island.
Two years since the Health and Safety legislation changed, what have we achieved? In short, quite a lot! In 2012 the Government set a target of a 25 percent reduction in work related deaths and injuries by 2020.
According to Statistics NZ, deaths and serious non-fatal injuries are both below the target set by the Government already however, injuries that required more than a week off work are still well above the 2020 target, though also trending down.
Statistics are all well and good, but what do they really tell us? I think the real story is the change in culture across workplaces; businesses and individuals have moved away from a compliance focused approach, to a morally ‘it’s the right thing to do’ attitude.
There are undoubtedly areas that need to improve, but it is heartening to see an increase in individuals and organisations participating in health and safety training. We’re seeing individuals choosing to attend training, rather than being sent, with this increased willingness to participate from the shop floor up behind the movement.
WorkSafe commissioned a three-year survey (2014-2016) to analyse the balance in attitude and behaviours between workers and employers around health and safety. Interestingly, employers showed a more optimistic view of the state of health and safety within their organisation. One way to close this gap is to ensure employers talk to their people at the coalface. The enthusiasm for health and safety is there; it needs to be harnessed and supported if we are to continue to make our workplaces safer.
Christchurch has been presented with a unique opportunity to redevelop itself. While that comes with a price tag, we should ensure we deliver an experience and standard of living that reflects the fact that we are New Zealand’s second largest city.
We need to create a city that attracts the best talent and businesses who will invest and contribute to our economy; a city that draws visitors from across the world to experience end explore our unique offering; and a city that provides its residents with rich cultural, social, sporting and commercial activity.
We’re starting to see businesses base themselves here in Christchurch – let’s make it easy for them to succeed, enable them to achieve the very best outcomes they can and attract and keep the talent they need to succeed.
One such business said recently, “Christchurch really stood out when we were evaluating locations as it not only met all of our requirements, but had the added bonus of a thriving and collaborative technology and startup community… It’s inspiring to see the amazing transformation that the city is undertaking and it is obvious that Christchurch is a city on the rise.”
Let’s make sure we deliver on these expectations and start talking about what we expect from the second largest city in New Zealand.
We’ll need to be creative about how we pay for the new city and prioritise the things most likely to deliver the positive experience for residents, businesses and visitors. But let’s make sure we have the discussion. We can’t afford not to.
A city is a brand. Just like any great brand, we need to be clear on who we are and what we stand for. We need to be aspirational to inspire bold thinking to attract great talent and interest in our city.
ChristchurchNZ are in the midst of redefining our city’s identity. As they work with various stakeholders, it’s clear innovation is key to our city’s brand.
Innovation has always been in our blood with business pioneers like Angus Tait (Tait Communications), Bill Hamilton (CWF Hamilton) and Sir Gil Simpson (Jade Software) leading the way.
I am privileged to see outstanding innovation and creativity every day. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. In addition to more established companies, we are lucky to have many young, passionate entrepreneurs making their mark locally and internationally. Young companies like Banqer, Ethique and Corvecto reinforce that innovation, creativity and experimentation stretches across generations.
In February, Christchurch launched Yoogo Share – the first in the Southern Hemisphere. We also heard a great international tech company has chosen to base their APAC office here, choosing Christchurch over Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. We are on the right track to redefining ourselves as a place that embraces and nurtures open-minds, experimentation, creativity and innovation.
We have an exciting opportunity to reposition our city and must ensure the vision is bold, yet ensure we are able to deliver on the promise. Businesses and entrepreneurs must continue to be supported by a strong, connected ecosystem, and local and central government policy must nurture an innovation-led economy.
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