'Good place to run a business'

Barry Adams.
Barry Adams.
Expansion, upgrades and a business upturn are signs of business confidence in Ranfurly, local operators say.

Numerous businesses in the town are reporting higher visitor numbers and income, and are reinvesting in their interests.

Central Otago District Council Maniototo ward councillor Stu Duncan said there had been a lot of positive activity in the area recently.

''It's been a good season for farming ... the [Otago Central] rail trail has been very busy, and when you think about businesses that have changed hands, it's been to locals as well, and it shows confidence in the area.''

Martin Grundy, owner operator of Maniototo Four Square, said his business had a ''double-digit'' increase in turnover in the past year.

He took over the business after moving from Auckland in 2012.

''We saw it as a good place to invest - saw a lot of potential for the store. [Business from] farming, dairying, and the rail trail have proved it so. Turnover has increased massively since we bought it.''

Stu Duncan.
Stu Duncan.
That increase had been partly driven by improvements made to the store as well, he said. Ranfurly Hotel owner operator Barry Adams said he took over the establishment about 18 months ago, moving to the town from Lawrence.

''It's a good place to run a business. It's a great community to be a part of.''

Mr Adams had undertaken refurbishment and improvements while maintaining the Art Deco theme of the hotel, and had noticed higher numbers this year.

''Currently, we are three-quarters full during the week with contractors working in the area. Business has increased. That's part of the opportunity that I saw.''

Also contributing to higher numbers at the hotel were rail trail users, he said.

McLaren Transport director Paul Stumbles said the Ranfurly-based company was upgrading facilities, and had been buoyed by a healthy farming sector.

''It's positive that we are able to do that. There's a good positive vibe. Dairy workers are spending money in the town and renting houses. We do all right when the farms are doing all right, and most people are reasonably confident that the rural sector ... has good stability.''

Mr Duncan said rural contractors had also been busy, and employment rates were high.

Builders, plumbers and electricians had ''plenty to do'' in the town and on farms.

He had also noticed more young children in the area, a sign people wanted to bring up families in the region, he said.

A Central Otago District Council quarterly report for January-March 2014 showed numbers of people visiting the i-Site in Ranfurly had increased by 24%, from 13, 181 for the same period last year compared with 16, 394 this year.

The Practice, Ranfurly owner Amie Pont said shops in town had made a decision to open in the weekends and had noticed more people coming through the town, especially in long weekends.

''Destination shopping is a potential for Ranfurly. It's really surprising how many people from the other areas - Middlemarch, Ida Valley, Alexandra - come to Ranfurly to get their hair done, have lunch, and do a bit of shopping.''

A lot more ''passing through'' traffic had been noticed as well.

''I think it's great that people are having confidence in local businesses.''

Efforts by Project Maniototo and Maniototo Promotions, as well as better communication, had helped increase business, she said.

''It's just looking at things in a positive way. If we can support that, it turns into growth and development.''

leith.huffadine@odt.co.nz

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