We have skilled workers and can make it all here

Escea operations manager Mark Davie (left) and machine operator Ryan Savage with the new turret...
Escea operations manager Mark Davie (left) and machine operator Ryan Savage with the new turret punching machine in 2014. PHOTO: CRAIG BAXTER
Dunedin has to support its people by messaging that  the city is a great base to manufacture from, writes Rachel Elder.

As an employment consultant and someone who advocates for a wide range of jobs in Dunedin, I am keen for Dunedin to be advertised nationwide as a place that is great for manufacturing and production as this will supply jobs to our skilled workers.

The fact is Cadbury is owned by a multinational that has caused its demise. Manufacturing can be done here well and efficiently.

Interestingly enough, Trade Aid opened a chocolate factory in Christchurch in 2014 and Whittaker's is growing its business from Porirua. Dunedin has new companies such as Bison just starting out which is manufacturing weighing machines for containers. We have Blis manufacturing probiotics, we have Escea, which produces high-end gas fires, and we have Ellis Fibre exporting to China.

Oamaru is witnessing the expansion of both Whitestone Cheese and Rainbow Confectionery (Regina sweets).

Dunedin got back Goodman Fielder making bread, Speight's and Greggs, all of which found producing here economical.

Dunedin even has its own growing chocolate factory with Ocho, and Cottonsoft has announced an expansion.

Dunedin is the base for a diverse range of manufacturing, both large and small, which are glad they operate from here. Our port exports a huge amount of product from all over Otago, the Waitaki and Southland, proving that exporting from Dunedin is indeed economical and profitable. Kaikorai Valley alone has a huge number of small to medium size manufacturing/production firms.

So what does Dunedin offer to someone who is thinking of starting manufacturing here? We have a stable workforce. Our workers love living here and do not shift jobs as frequently. We have groups skilled in manufacturing and production who are keen to work here.

In the food industry, we have a moderate climate which means refrigeration and cooling costs are lower. We have innovative engineering firms which can assist to build efficient production systems. We have a low cost of living. We have low setup costs including rental or acquisition costs. We have a university and polytechnic which can assist with research, support and a skilled workforce. We have great infrastructure and an accessible port. We have a fantastic and affordable lifestyle.

Dunedin has so many advantages in getting high-value and high-quality agricultural products, with food and agricultural sciences, including Abacus Bio and Invermay, we can leverage off.

I believe this is our opportunity to say we have a great city to manufacture/produce and export from and we are keen to talk with those interested in setting up here.

Messaging that it is too expensive to export from Dunedin and that we are too far away from markets and that manufacturing is best not done here does not support the many families and individuals who work in this sector. Nor does it support the many successful production and manufacturing businesses based here.

I am a keen advocate of our skilled workers and their families and a diverse economy that is inclusive for all our people. We have to send messages we are open for business and keen to talk and grow our economy.

Rachel Elder is a Dunedin city councillor.


As a city councillor Ms Elder should be overtly aware that the Dunedin City Council-owned power distribution company Aurora Energy Ltd does not and cannot offer a safe and secure electricity supply network for businesses, manufacturers and other large power users (this aside from the now obvious inability to offer safe supply to residential users). The mayor and councillors are not listening and not communicating clearly on the state of Aurora's burnt asset. Thankfully, the Otago Daily Times has filled that void with strong news reporting. At a cost of one billion dollars to repair and upgrade the existing lines and facilities - not counting the cost of new development work required in Central Otago and Lakes District to meet growth and increasing infrastructural demand - there will shortly be a very heavy impost landing on all local businesses via rates increases. Such an unpopular debating topic at the head-in-the-sand Dunedin City Council.

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