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Leeann Watson

Leeann Watson: The Influencers


Leeann Watson
Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Chief Executive

At this time of the year, it’s important that we also help those less fortunate. Not-for-profits are a vital thread in the social fabric of our community. However, they are also often the organisations that are the humblest – the ones that fly under the radar, whispering their success stories, when they have every reason to shout them from the rooftop.

That’s why I was so pleased to see the Christchurch City Mission win the Champion Canterbury Community Impact Award for the medium/large enterprise category, and why I am so happy to lend my voice to raise awareness of their Back to School programme.
The Christchurch City Mission has seen year-on-year demand increases for their support, which is compounded at this time of the year with Christmas and the significant financial outlay for families at the start of the school year.

To help ease this pressure, the Christchurch City Mission offers practical assistance through the purchasing of school related items, such as uniforms, shoes, stationery and other curricular material. In 2012, the cost to deliver this initiative was almost $86,000, which supported 140 people. By 2017, that cost had jumped to over $274,000, supporting 470 people.

 

This increase in demand shows the significant need in our community for this support. So, this summer, we encourage you to show your support – whether it’s through volunteering, donations or funding. The Christchurch City Mission measures success not solely by the statistics, but by the connections made and the self-worth restored to someone’s life, and that’s more than worthy of our support.

 



 

Leeann Watson

Leeann Watson: The Influencers


As we head into spring, Christchurch is looking spectacular. With the opening of two new city amenities, the $50 million Hoyts EntX cinema complex and Tūranga, the central library, it’s great to see Christchurch residents getting back into the central city. We’ve seen many businesses make the commitment to return to the central city.

 

Leeann Watson
Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Chief Executive

Now we need the people of Christchurch to come and experience the unique offerings and make the most of what’s on offer. The Terrace provides an array of new restaurants, bars and cafés with spectacular fitouts and a range of dining options. The Crossing complex provides private lanes and stunning retailers, many of whom can only be found in the central city.

Dispelling the myths of no parking in the central city, there is now more than ever, with around 2900 parks in parking buildings and over 1700 on-street parks. Why not jump on a bus and head into the Bus Exchange, or enjoy the experience on a new Lime electric scooter.

If you haven’t ventured into the central city for a while, I encourage you to head in. Take the kids to the Margaret Mahy Family Playground followed by a coffee or lunch in New Regent Street. Have dinner and a movie at the new Hoyts Entx complex, or have brunch at Little High, with a spot of shopping at The Crossing and Cashel Mall.

Let’s support the local businesses that have been courageous and made the commitment to lead our central city’s regeneration.

 



 

Leeann Watson

The Influencers: Leeann Watson


The council’s decision to recommend to Government that the Multi-Use Arena be funded as the lion-share of the Capital Acceleration Fund allocation caused comment around priorities for Christchurch in the regeneration of the city.

 

Leeann Watson
Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Chief Executive

However, this is not an example of sacrificing one priority in favour of another. The new arena is a vital piece of public infrastructure. It is not just a rugby stadium. While it will host matches, it is so much more – it’s a venue capable of hosting massive events that will draw people from afar to the city.
Over the last year we have seen numerous international artists play all over New Zealand and the cities that host them reap massive economic benefits. Right now, Christchurch is missing out.
The restaurants and bars that will be packed to the brim hosting concerts and international sporting events will be supplied by our local food and beverage producers and the staff working in those venues and the hotels will be locals.
When we’re debating whether Christchurch should have a Multi-Use Arena, we need to think beyond it being just a rugby stadium and understand the economic and social benefits it will bring everybody in our city.
I congratulate the council for the decision to both fund the stadium from the Government’s Capital Acceleration Fund, and to bring forward their own contribution in the Long-Term Plan. Now we have to get on with it and build this great community facility.

 



 

Leeann Watson

The Influencers Column: Leeann Watson


One of the key parts to making Christchurch’s downtown a great place to live, work and play is ensuring strong investment from private developers in residential development within the four avenues.

Leeann Watson
Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Chief Executive

 

Without great projects catering to all sections of the property market, we won’t deliver on the bold ambition to see 20,000 people living in our central city. That’s why I was so pleased to see the council outline their downtown housing development plan, ‘Project 8011’, designed to reduce the risks of investment, provide increased advice and support to developers and accelerate the delivery of housing in the central city.
Central to its success will be ensuring it is focused on working with and facilitating the private sector to deliver the developments we need. The CBD rebuild has been spearheaded by private developers, who have delivered high quality retail, office and hospitality offerings. We know that when properly enabled, the private sector is the best chance we have of ensuring success for Project 8011.

We will see a raft of promotional activities soon to activate our central city. This is vital to the success of the fantastic developments we have seen so far. We are also entering another exciting period of openings, with the next few months welcoming Turanga, the Hoyts cinema complex, the central city Farmers’ Market and the Ballantynes extension.

These great projects will attract more people into the central city. We can’t afford to lose momentum in visitation to the CBD while we wait for these game-changing city assets to come online.

 



 

Leeann Watson

Leeann Watson: The Influencers


As the dynamics of our city continue to change, so to does the diversity of those that live and work in our city. But should we be doing more?

 

Leeann Watson
Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Chief Executive

In September, we mark an important milestone, celebrating 125 years of New Zealand women becoming the first in the world to win the right to vote.

Like many things, Christchurch led the way in 1893 with Kate Sheppard, in the face of fierce opposition, gathering signatures of nearly 32,000 women to demonstrate the groundswell of support for the suffrage cause.

Christchurch continues to lead the way with a growing number of leadership roles held by women across our city including The Chamber, Westland Milk, Trimble Navigation, Ballantynes, Christchurch NZ, The Press and the Christchurch City Council.

Diversity and inclusion have been proven to lead to better commercial results – yet many organisations fail to see it as part of their overall strategy.

 

For example:

– Companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more likely to financially     outperform
their industry and 38% more likely to have a higher than average market share
– Companies with at least one female executive outperform the stockmarket by 37%
– Companies with at least 30% female executives outperform the stockmarket by 173%
– Companies with female board members are 26% more profitable than companies with all-male board.

 


As we acknowledge and celebrate 125 years of Women’s Suffrage, you may like to consider what you are doing as an organisation to promote and support diversity in your workplace.


 

 

Leeann Watson

The Influencers Column: Leeann Watson

There’s been a lot of comment on business confidence, which hit a seven-year low last month.

Leeann Watson
Leeann Watson: Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

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.

Leeann Watson

The Influencers Column: Leeann Watson

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.

Leeann Watson
Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

 

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.

Leeann Watson

The Influencers Column: Leeann Watson

Leeann Watson
Leeann Watson: Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

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.

Leeann Watson

The Influencers Column: Leeann Watson

Leeann Watson
Leeann Watson: Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

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.

Leeann Watson

The Influencers Column: Leeann Watson

Leeann Watson: Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive
Leeann Watson: Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

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.