Rep to help city firms get Christchurch rebuild work

Dunedin should have a representative employed by April next year to help its companies make the most of the estimated $30 billion worth of work needed to rebuild Christchurch.

Late last month, the Dunedin City Council's finance, strategy and development committee recommended the council approve a "Christchurch rebuild liaison person".

This week the council ratified that decision, and while the maximum cost - to include salary and other expenses - has been set at $350,000 over a two-year period, staff and councillors say the final cost is unlikely to reach that level.

Economic development unit manager Peter Harris said the council had people "scoping" exactly what the job would involve, and he expected the position to be advertised in the new year.

The idea of the role was for Dunedin to have a representative dedicated to attracting for local businesses some of the work required to rebuild Christchurch.

The total figure, estimated by the Reserve Bank, was equivalent to the value of about 100 stadiums, or up to 6.6 times the total gross domestic product of Dunedin, Mr Harris has said.

While the nature of the role would, in part, be up to the person recruited, it could include helping businesses to develop joint ventures, or making sure they understood government processes.

The work was similar to the business clusters the economic development unit had helped organise, but in an industry - construction - in which it had no experience.

While 30,000 workers were expected to be needed, recruitment of overseas construction staff had already begun.

The council on Monday approved the funding, despite Cr Jinty MacTavish's argument $350,000 - "an awful lot of money" - could be better spent helping job growth, Cr Vandervis' suggestion the work should be done by the council's economic development unit, and Cr Teresa Stevenson's suggestion a lesser amount should be allocated.

Finance, strategy and development committee chairman Cr Syd Brown said it was "quite clear" the $350,000 was a maximum figure, and it was not likely that amount would be spent.

The money was to come from the council's 2011-12 industry project fund.

Mr Harris was in Wellington on Tuesday, discussing the issue with the Government's Industry Capability Network, which has had a full-time "procurement adviser" in Christchurch for the past three months matching New Zealand businesses with developers and construction companies.

The idea was to make sure the Dunedin representative was "in the same system".

Mr Harris said he was trying to attract government funding, but whether or not that was forthcoming "we need to be on the same page".

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

 

 

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