Engaging with our local businesses community, I’m often asked what is the collective “Chamber’s” primary function.

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As the ultimate success network for business, the 30 chambers throughout New Zealand support over 22,000 members who are active in their business environment both nationally and internationally. Each chamber’s role is to influence and inspire business, and help deliver business success. As not-for-profit business membership associations, the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce promote, support and encourage sustainable, profitable business growth.

Congratulations must go to all involved with the recent announcement of the Prime Sawmill sale. This significant transaction, after the mill sat redundant for nine years, could not have come at a more appropriate time for those affected by the Juken NZ Ltd restructure. We hope that most of those losing jobs at Juken get employment with the new owner of the former Prime sawmill, Far East Sawmills.

Around local business discussions, I still note some business owners contemplating what percentage increase we can expect for council rates come June.

At a recent Northern Chamber meeting (Gisborne is part of the Northern Chamber collective), frustration was expressed over a decision taken by Tauranga city councillors — who have unanimously voted to approve a rate system change that means the business sector will eventually pay a 60 percent bigger portion of the city’s overall rates bill than homeowners. 

Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Northern Chamber, said their behaviour was illogical and showed a lack of analysis and innovative thinking.

“What on Earth makes councillors believe that businesses have a greater ability to pay than residents?”

All ratepayers should pay the same level of rates for the same services they received, he said. There was nothing in the Tauranga proposal showing that services to businesses would improve — it was the council’s spending that drove rates and they were imposing a rates differential on business to pay for it.

“Councillors are putting an increased cost burden on business without any improvement in services, yet are also wanting better job opportunities and security for their children and grandchildren.”

This only reinforced why New Zealand’s rating system needed an overhaul, Mr Barnett said.

Closer to home in Wairoa there are continuing fears over where their rates will end up, after consultation on proposals to change to a more capital-value based system that would see some ratepayers paying over 50 percent more in rates. 

In Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon has consistently promoted holding rates to a 2 percent maximum rise, but the council is apparently now looking at 5 percent average rate rises in each of the next three years.

It will be interesting to learn what rate increase is struck, how it was arrived at and how it impacts on different categories of ratepayers. If services provided are improved or in the process of being improved, this will make increases more palatable.

The Gisborne Chamber of Commerce is presently engaging with a professional provider to deliver a one-day seminar in late May, subject “Best Practice Governance for the Boardroom”. If this interests you, please make contact with me at the chamber office.

National YES (Young Enterprise Scheme) registrations are open for 2018, with our first event for YES “Timata I kick-start” (EDay) held last Thursday. 

YES student companies are now starting their businesses, creating a product or a service and actually bringing it to life. They will have been taken through an ideas/innovation process to challenge their thinking and begin to put together a picture of what their product or service will be, along with how this provides value to the customer.

Part of the Timata session will have also involved coaching support from local business volunteers, who will provide feedback and advice on the students’ product/service. Potentially coaches may then connect with a team and mentor them throughout the year. Thank you to our wonderful coaches for volunteering to support teams during the validation workshop.  

Two dates to lock into your diary are our Chamber of Commerce annual meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 28 5.30pm, and the Westpac Gisborne Business Excellence Awards scheduled for Friday, September 7. If you would like to know more about either of these events, give us a call.

Terry Sheldrake MNZM is chief executive of Gisborne Chamber of Commerce. He is also an executive board member of the International Triathlon Union.​


Posted: Wednesday 28 March 2018