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As the chamber celebrated its 150th anniversary yesterday, Mr McIntyre told the Otago Daily Times other New Zealand cities were envious of the strong links between Dunedin and Shanghai.
The strengthening links went back to the hard work carried out by former mayor Peter Chin but now was the time for the city to leverage off the work of Mr Chin, the chamber and many others to participate in the Asian economic growth.
"We have a 20 years' head start with other cities and they are envious," he said.
Over the past 150 years, the chamber had always tried to keep itself relevant to business interests and had been prepared to push the boundaries when it came to protecting businesses, Mr McIntyre said.
The role of the chamber was to represent businesses in a positive way, and that had continued to the present.
The chamber "stood up" for members regarding the proposed Harbourside development and had tried its best to retain jobs at Hillside, in conjunction with others.
Some influential names were prominent on the chamber roll of honour, he said. They included Hudson, Shacklock, Rattray, Cargill, Hallenstein and Neill.
"The reason for that was at one stage, we were the pre-eminent business centre in New Zealand. We have a strong, rich history of representing business in this country."
The chamber had also been influential in establishing the University of Otago.
Mr McIntyre said the chamber would keep evolving. The organisation had moved away from having just membership funding to membership being only 25% of the balance sheet.
Training had become a key part of the chamber's role.
The prospect of oil exploration in the South was seen as a major economic boost for the region, he said.
The chamber had also moved away from representing just Dunedin business. South Otago Commerce, North Otago and Otago were now all part of the same organisation.
Mr McIntyre called for key stakeholders in the region to have more conversations about the needs of business before presenting the Dunedin City Council with a list of things it needed to do to promote business.
"We need to go to the city council rather than have it the other way. The council should be putting in place the environment for business growth, not providing the growth.
"Businesses will do it for themselves, as long as the right infrastructure is in place," he said.