As this is my last Metropol column of the year, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight an initiative that is very close to my heart.
In my role at The Chamber, I have seen first-hand the great work and outcomes that our many charities provide to those in need in our city.
This year I am pleased to lend my voice to the Bayleys Plate Up for a Purpose campaign, which challenges local chief executives to raise $5000 each, culminating in a memorable evening of fun and food at the Town Hall on 29 February. At this event we will join forces with top Canterbury chefs to cater a three-course dinner for 180 people!
The funds raised will go towards the Christchurch City Mission’s Back to School programme, which pays $300,000 a year towards the school costs of children from families who struggle with the significant financial outlay at the start of the school year. This gives these kids the resources they need to start the new year and – most importantly – the confidence to fit in with their peers and stay in school, helping to give every child in Canterbury the chance to get the education they need to succeed.
The Christchurch City Mission is not alone – there are so many amazing organisations in our community that need our help. As we head into the holiday break, I would encourage all of you to do something (regardless of how small) to help create a positive impact in our community.
We were so excited to bring the Westpac Champion Business Awards to Canterbury once again – and what a night it was!
Both of our Supreme Winners demonstrate the innovation and adaptability Canterbury has become known for – Ethique aims to rid the cosmetics industry of plastic bottles and make beauty eco-friendly; TASKA produces the world’s first waterproof myoelectric prosthetic hand, designed to restore ability and confidence for amputees worldwide.
These organisations aren’t just leading the way in our city or even our country – they are world-leading, and we’re proud to have them as Canterbury businesses.
The black-tie event was delivered to over 1100 members of the business community and regarded as the best awards yet – no small feat considering it was our 17th year.
We were also delighted to present special awards to Anton Matthews from FUSH who was recognised with the Emerging Business Leader Award for his dedication to revitalising te reo in Ōtautahi, and also a Special Commendation to Bruce Irvine who has given so much to the city and our region through his commitment to business, governance, the arts and his philanthropic generosity.
Category winners included Mount Cook Ski Planes and Helicopters, Christchurch Engine Centre, Tuatara Structures, Barker Fruit Processors Ltd, The New Zealand Merino Company Limited, Ethique, YWCA Christchurch, The Christchurch City Mission, Medsalv, RuralCo, Canterbury District Health Board, and TASKA Prosthetics.
These organisations reinforce our positioning of Ōtautahi as a city of opportunity and innovation.
Producer of the world’s first waterproof myoelectric prosthetic hand, TASKA Prosthetics, and the world’s first zero-waste beauty brand, Ethique, have taken out the Supreme Awards at this year’s Westpac Champion Business Awards.
The awards were presented at a black-tie event at Horncastle Arena last month, with 1100 members of the local business community in attendance. Champion Canterbury Ltd Chair and Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson says the winners demonstrate why Canterbury is becoming known as a city of innovation.
“Both of our Supreme Winners demonstrate the keen sense of innovation and adaptability Canterbury has become known for – Ethique aims to rid the cosmetics industry of plastic bottles and make beauty eco-friendly; TASKA produces the world’s first waterproof myoelectric prosthetic hand, designed to restore ability and confidence for amputees around the world. These organisations aren’t just leading the way in terms of our city or even our country – they are world-leading, and we are incredibly proud to have them as Canterbury businesses.
“I strongly believe that Canterbury businesses are more robust, resilient, agile, adaptive and open to change given the adversity they have faced over the last 10 years and our challenging and rapidly evolving local operating environment. We have always been nimble, but the last few years have really accelerated that process. This provides us with a distinct competitive advantage and reinforces our history of pioneers and positioning of Ōtautahi as a city of opportunity and innovation.”
In addition to the two Supreme Awards, there were also 13 business category winners, including Mount Cook Ski Planes and Helicopters, Christchurch Engine Centre, Tuatara Structures, Barker Fruit Processors Ltd, The New Zealand Merino Company Limited, Ethique, YWCA Christchurch, The Christchurch City Mission, Medsalv, RuralCo, Canterbury District Health Board, TASKA Prosthetics (two categories).
“The winners across all categories demonstrate an agile focus in their business operations. They also have a strong purpose, clear identity and unique point of difference, which is essential in today’s increasingly competitive and globalised marketplace.”
Two individuals were also recognised with special awards. Anton Matthews from local restaurant FUSH was recognised with the Emerging Business Leader Award for his dedication to revitalising and normalising te reo in Ōtautahi and Bruce Irvine received a Special Commendation for his contribution to the greater Christchurch region.
One of the aspects of our rebuilt city that is so exciting for locals and visitors is our amazing array of eateries. We are spoilt for choice, with almost every kind of cuisine and style of eating imaginable. I also love seeing the imagination and innovation that has gone into some of the fit-outs to rival even the most ‘foodie’ of city landscapes overseas.
In a sector that typically operates at a 10-15 percent margin, the pressure of increased compliance costs, climbing overheads such as ongoing rates increases and the recent compulsory minimum wage jump (equating to a 7 percent impact) have all put the financial squeeze on local hospitality business owners.
The large number of new eateries in Canterbury also has the double-edged sword of increased competition, with StatsNZ putting the total number of food and beverage services at 1,638 in 2018. Almost every new space being developed seems to have some sort of hospitality outlet as a cornerstone of its development. While that’s great for consumers, it provides a challenging operating environment for business owners.
If we want to retain the vibrancy of this key sector and draw the volume of people we need, the bottom line is we need reasons to entice people into the central city including regular large-scale events. Promotions such as the locally focused ‘Baby Come Back’ and the wider national activation from Air New Zealand inviting New Zealanders to ‘Explore Something New in Christchurch’ can only go so far in terms of increasing domestic and international visitation and spending – we need a calendar of big events and local activations to provide a tangible reason for visiting our city more than once.
Ed Sheeran’s concert in Dunedin over the 2018 Easter break resulted in an addition of almost $38m to Dunedin’s economy. While this was one of the city’s biggest weekends in terms of economic impact, it just shows the heights we could scale to. Christchurch recently hosted music legend Phil Collins, which drew over 25,000 fans, including 15,000 from out of the city, generating over 24,700 visitor nights and injecting $5.8m into the local economy.
But it’s not just about the music. There are also huge opportunities in terms of playing host to key international sporting events. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was the first major international event to be held in Christchurch since the earthquakes, with the opening event, opening match and a further two pool matches giving us the opportunity to once again shine on the international stage.
The event was the most popular Cricket World Cup and one of the most watched sporting events in history based on a combination of attendance, television audience and, most significantly, digital media – it was the third largest international sporting event ever in terms of digital reach and was also broadcast to an estimated television audience of 1.56 billion people according to the Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd PWC final report.
Large events do wonders for the economy – not to mention the positive positioning of Christchurch as a city of exploration and opportunity providing residents, including our young people, with interesting and engaging activities. This should be an easy win; we already have the hospitality and accommodation providers ready to go, they are just being underutilised. I look forward to 2020 being the year that really makes the most of this huge opportunity.
Education been in the spotlight in recent months – and a shake-up of the sector has been long overdue.
The most significant development has been the decision on the Review of Vocational Education (RoVE), with 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics to be merged into the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) from 1 April 2020, and a handful of Workforce Development Councils to be created.
We look forward to seeing greater collaboration between training providers and the business community to ensure training is fit for purpose and aligned with the skills needed by the industry now and into the future, and to support economic growth, taking into account regional nuances. With the announcement of the NZIST Establishment Board being based in Christchurch, this invites an opportunity to present a strong business case to house the national head office in Christchurch, creating over 100 jobs and reinforcing our position as a national centre for education and innovation.
It’s also imperative we focus on lifelong learning and integrated education that responds to the changing nature of work. That’s why we welcomed the Government’s recent announcement of an additional $14.5 million to the employer-led workplace literacy and numeracy fund – bringing its total contribution to $45 million over the next four years.
Lifelong learning gives employees the opportunity to continue with personal development, enabling them to step into higher-level roles or learn new skills to carry them through different jobs and industries. It also enables the employer to increase productivity meaning that re-training and re-deployment is a priority now more than ever.
It’s shaping up to be an exciting local body election in Christchurch. There are a number of contenders for the mayoralty race, which is producing some lively debate. We hope that this will also translate to more people having their say at the polling booths.
In 2016, just 38 percent of people eligible to vote in Christchurch did so. This reflects a general downward trend in voter turnout for local government elections. Throughout the country, voter turnout for local elections was only a little higher at 42 percent.
Compare this to parliamentary elections in 2017, where turnout was almost 75 percent. So why is there less interest and engagement in local body elections? Given the potential impact on our lives in terms of provision of services and shaping public policy, it could be argued that local government has a much more direct impact.
My guess is that a lack of interest is fuelled by the unknown factor. People just don’t know who is running or what they stand for. Local candidates don’t have the same campaign budget as our national governing parties – but they do have presence. So I would encourage candidates to voice their views and for residents to get behind the process by asking the tough questions of their candidates.
As an Employers’ Chamber, we are interested in hearing about what candidates will do to support local businesses and enable economic growth in the region. In particular, what candidates will set out to achieve at a practical, tangible level, beyond just big picture aspirations.
Asset management is one of the issues that has been around for a while now and it’s one that we keep returning to – so this will be top of our question list for candidates. Clutching on to the old ways of doing things will only get us so far; we need to look at new innovative ways of doing things differently, such as bringing partners on board for strategic collaborations.
The current council has also done well to put the central city in the spotlight. As the heart of our region, we need to ensure that our future council understands the gravity of getting it right. So what do candidates think should be done to further promote economic activity in the CBD?
The vision in the Long Term Plan was Christchurch as a place of opportunity for all – a place that is open to new ideas, new people and new ways of doing things; a place where anything is possible. But where is the tangible plan to align this with reality?
It also comes down to communication. People need to know what’s happening – or not happening – and why. The local community needs confidence to know that we are being kept in the loop and the certainty that our rates and taxes are being spent wisely and well.
We are so fortunate to have a strong democratic process that we owe it to ourselves to make the most of it. Have a say. Voice your opinion. Ask the tough questions. And above all, vote. Our local government should represent our community, but that won’t happen if we don’t involve ourselves in the process. Now is the time that you can make a difference.
This year’s finalists at The Westpac Champion Business Awards are all examples of highly adaptive, responsive and innovative local organisations, Champion Canterbury Ltd Chair and Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson says.
Award finalists in each of the 14 categories were announced at a function at the Ara Institute of Canterbury on Wednesday 7 August, representing a diverse range of sectors, including agriculture, aviation, conservation, construction, healthcare, social services and tourism.
“The top entries across all categories demonstrated an increasingly agile focus in their business operations, which has become vital to succeed in Canterbury’s dynamic and rapidly evolving business environment,” Watson says.
“There was also a clear trend of innovation and optimism in the entries, as well as a very strong ‘people’ focus, with businesses clearly seeking to focus on staff and societal wellbeing as a measurement of what success is.”
The late Karl Lagerfeld said “I don’t do meetings,” but then of course he didn’t have a bespoke meeting room solution complete with a state-of-the-art Interactive Whiteboard created for him by Ricoh New Zealand.
In a thriving business, meetings have to happen and Ricoh knows how to maximise productivity through design and technology. Every meeting room is different and every company is different, so Ricoh’s solutions are tailored to ensure that technology, room size, rate of usage, natural and artificial light, acoustics and table size dovetail for best efficiency and enjoyment.
Ricoh’s core product is the amazing Interactive Whiteboard. To see it in action is to realise you need it and once installed, you’ll wonder how the business functioned without it. Picture an iPad in table-top size that also functions as a whiteboard you can write on with your finger. Then picture the whiteboard function overlaying the data, plans or images on your screen, enabling you to alter, design, highlight and rearrange with a fingertip. You can save work straight to your computer, print and email instantly from the screen, video call and conference meeting rooms all over the country – it is easy and instinctive to use.
The applications for the Interactive Whiteboards are almost endless. Often wallmounted, the Interactive Whiteboards can also be placed on a stand and used table-top style, which is invaluable for architects, designers, engineers and planners. They are ideal for companies where client presentations are really important, perfect for small and large group training and for standard meetings. “At Ricoh we now have so much better interaction with our own head office and regional branches using this technology,” Karen Heydon says.
The Ricoh team recently installed an Interactive Whiteboard for the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, which has since ordered another for a second space. “As the home and voice of Canterbury business, The Chamber offers around 100 events and 300 training courses every year,” Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson says.
“With many of our trainers favouring a workshop approach to encourage engagement, the multi-functionality aspect of the whiteboards has been really important. This means that we don’t need to clutter up our training spaces with a range of different solutions – we can easily use the board for everything from Skype to presentations as well as just for writing on. Being internet-enabled in particular makes a huge difference, as our trainers often use this feature to show instructional videos and can navigate websites easily with a touch of the screen. It’s also really user-friendly so even the least tech-savvy people can use it.”
The Chamber has been working with Ricoh for a number of years. “We have been impressed with the way they have taken the time to learn about our organisation and our specific business requirements. They have been able to work with us to provide a fit-for-purpose IT solution that ticks all of the boxes – taking care of everything from photocopiers to IT support and troubleshooting. Their ability to get any issues sorted is integral to us being able to continue to support and empower local business,” Leeann adds.
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.