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Govt commits to helping Canterbury businesses


Hon Gerry Brownlee
Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Hon David Carter
Acting Minister for Economic Development

22 March 2011 Media Statement

Govt commits to helping Canterbury businesses

The government has committed $6.85 million to a carefully targeted economic recovery package to help Canterbury businesses severely affected by the two major earthquakes get back on their feet.

The package includes money for business recovery coordinators, international visits for exporters to key clients, a trust fund for those in need following the quakes, and more money for workshops and business training.

"This is a needs-based package developed in conjunction with the Canterbury business community – it reflects what they’ve told us they need and we’ll continue talking in the months ahead to respond as their needs change," Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said.

Mr Brownlee and Acting Economic Development Minister David Carter made the announcement in Christchurch today alongside Canterbury business leaders.

Mr Carter said the funding would go towards local initiatives that would help restore the confidence of businesses, maintain their financial liquidity, and support ongoing operations.

"The package includes $1.7 million to extend the reach of the local recovery team by recruiting new business recovery coordinators.

"The new coordinators will assess businesses’ needs and refer them to the right services, as well as facilitate access to funding sources," Mr Carter said.

A one-off donation of $2.5 million has been earmarked for the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust Fund, a new private sector initiative that will help fund the needs identified by local businesses, like professional services or relocation costs.

The fund has been set up by the Canterbury Business Recovery Group – led by the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce and the Canterbury Development Corporation to facilitate business-to-business donations.

To help build confidence in doing business with New Zealand following the February earthquake, a $2 million fund to support visits to international markets by earthquake affected export businesses will be made available through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. This will cover 75 per cent of eligible travel expenses.

A further $650,000 will also be made available for businesses to access training, workshops and business coaching.

Mr Brownlee said while a significant number of Canterbury businesses were fully operational the government knew it wasn’t easy for some to get back on their feet after so many setbacks.

"By taking a partnership approach to economic recovery, we're aiming to put the right people and the right services where they can make the most difference," he said.

"Exporters have expressed concerns about how people outside New Zealand perceive the ongoing effects of the earthquake on business.

"The funding to support visits to international markets will help them meet clients face-to-face, reinforce ongoing relationships and reassure them that Christchurch, and New Zealand, is open for business."

Mr Brownlee and Mr Carter said the government would continue to work in partnership with Canterbury’s business sector to develop further initiatives to help local businesses get trading again.

The $6.85 million funding for the economic recovery package will come from a realignment of funding within the Ministry of Economic Development and New Zealand Trade and Enterprises baselines.

For more information visit www.recovercanterbury.co.nz or www.nzte.govt.nz/canterbury

--

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

How do businesses get access to the support package?
Businesses who want to get a needs assessment should contact the Canterbury Business Recovery Group in the first instance on 0800 505 096, email info@recovercanterbury.co.nz or go to www.recovercanterbury.co.nz

The New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants are also gearing up their members so they are equipped to deal with requests directly from their clients.

Exporters who would like more information about the market visit funding should contact New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, either via their NZTE Account Manager or on 0800 555 888, or visit www.nzte.govt.nz/canterbury

Details about how the training, workshops and business coaching will operate are still being finalised. More information will be made available to Canterbury businesses once these are operational.

What is the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust Fund?
The Canterbury Business Recovery Group (an organisation set up by the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce and the Canterbury Development Corporation) formed the fund to act as repository for business-to-business donations.

The Fund will give financial assistance to Canterbury businesses to help them recover from damage and loss, and restore operations. In practice this will mean that funds are distributed to support needs like relocation, restocking, replacement of plant, and access to professional services.

How do organisations or individuals make a donation to the fund?
Businesses and individuals who want to support the Fund through financial donations can go to www.recovercanterbury.co.nz for more information.

How will money from the Fund be allocated?
The funds will be allocated through the business recovery coordinators working under the Canterbury Business Recovery Group. A simple but robust application process has been set up to ensure efficient and effective use of the funds.

Where will the business recovery coordinators be sourced from and how many will there be?
The details of this are still being finalised, but the intention is the Canterbury Business Recovery Group and key government agencies will provide around 30 staff in total.

How will the needs assessment and referral service work?
The business recovery coordinators will assess the needs of businesses which have been severely affected by the earthquakes. Once this initial assessment has taken place, the business recovery coordinators will refer the businesses on to the right services that can help them. Some of these services may be able to be covered by the new Canterbury Business Recovery Trust Fund.

For more information, visit the www.recovercanterbury.co.nz website.

The New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants are also gearing up their members so they are equipped to deal with requests directly from their clients.

What eligibility criteria will businesses have to meet to qualify for the market visit funding?
Businesses must be existing exporters whose operations have been affected by the earthquake of 22 February. The funding is for visits to (or by) their existing customers, distributors, agents, and other key business partners. The funding will be accessed via NZTE.

How much support is available to individual businesses?
Earthquake-affected businesses are eligible for up to $25,000 under this funding.

What time periods will the market visit funding cover?
The funding is intended to support firms visiting markets in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, from 22 February (which will be available on a retrospective basis) through to 30 June 2011.

Can businesses who don’t work with NZTE qualify for this funding?
Businesses must be existing exporters and willing to engage with NZTE in order to access this funding.

When will more information be available about the training, workshops and business coaching?
NZTE is working on the detail of this with regional business partners in Canterbury. More information will be available soon.

What will the workshops that are being developed cover?
The intention is the workshops will address regional needs. This might include training to develop skills associated with handling people and staff in the context of a traumatic event.

What kinds of businesses will be targeted by this new package of initiatives?
These initiatives are targeted at approximately 10,000 businesses, all of which were severely impacted by the two major earthquakes. Some will need only initial or intermittent assistance; others are likely to require ongoing support; and the remaining number may use the assessment and diagnosis process to close their businesses in an orderly manner.

How will these initiatives help business?
International experience indicates in the aftermath of a natural disaster it is important to take early steps to restore business confidence and reduce the risk that businesses might make hasty decisions about their future.

The latest business assistance package will help address some of these concerns. It will help rebuild the confidence of businesses and maintain their financial liquidity as well as assist them to make well-informed decisions about their future.

Feedback from business has indicated that international clients need to be reassured that Canterbury – and New Zealand – is open for business. The market visit funding, and ongoing activity by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and other government agencies, will help reinforce this important message.

Which businesses and associations were involved in the development of the initiatives?
The Canterbury Business Recovery Group, a joint initiative between the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce and the Canterbury Development Corporation, was the main private sector organisation involved in the development of the new initiatives.

Business NZ, the New Zealand Law Society, and the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants also played a role.

These associations represent the main sources of trusted advice to business operators in Canterbury.


ENDS

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