Better than three-quarters majority of chamber voting members back merger

Grant McKenzie
Grant McKenzie
More than three quarters of the voting members of the Otago Chamber of Commerce have agreed to a merger with another business advocacy group in the region.

The chamber and the Otago Southland Employers’ Association have proposed merging to form one group called Business South.

There were 28 member businesses — 20 of them is the minimum number needed for a quorum — present at the chamber’s offices in Dunedin yesterday.

Before the vote, chamber president Grant McKenzie told members why the merger — being proposed for a fourth time — was a good idea.

"From my perspective this has been quite a journey that we’ve come on ... it makes complete sense for both entities given the offering that they have.

"Financially you’re going to have a stronger entity, from membership services you’re going to have access to better services because they are quite complementary and I think it’s a real opportunity."

Members voted on two resolutions.

First that the chamber become a founding member and transfer all of its assets to the new Business South incorporated society, that it appoint six transition board members and for the Otago Chamber of Commerce to wind up its affairs.

The second resolution was for Keith Willis from G S McLauchlan to be appointed as the liquidator to carry out the winding up of the chamber.

The two resolutions were passed with 78% and 77% of the vote.

Leading up to the vote, the proposal had been criticised by the Southland Chamber of Commerce, while stakeholders in Central Otago had talked about breaking away to form their own organisation with Queenstown and Wanaka.

That concern was raised by a member at the chamber meeting and Mr McKenzie said the Otago chamber had been active speaking to the concerned parties.

"Really what the message we’re trying to get across to them is, this is a collaboration with them about getting the better outcome for all of us.

"We’d be looking at setting a memorandum of understanding up with Southland and the other chambers so that they know where exactly each other can play and how we can assist each other."

The merger only needs to be passed at the Otago Southland Employers’ Association’s special general meeting next week to go forward.


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