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Marketing consultant Simon Owen (23) was formally inducted to the board, along with Southland-Otago Farm Machinery group manager Tim Brown, at the chamber’s annual meeting last Thursday.
Chamber president Neil McAra said Mr Owen was the youngest person to be elected to the board. The chamber began in 1863.
"It is good to have new perspective and diversity in our board."
A born-and-bred Southlander, Mr Owen is founder and marketing consultant of The Orange Sheep, which in about five years of operation has secured clients such as Stabicraft and Fat Bastard Pies.
"They are clients that have grown with me, and I’m incredibly grateful for them," Mr Owen said.
"I’m proud of the fact that without my strategy contribution, these businesses would not have grown as forcefully in the direction they have. My work has added to their unique edge."
The company was founded while he was still doing his studies at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).
"I grew up down here, studied down here and started my own business here.
"Putting up my name for the board was the natural step from those relationships I built and for the things I want to achieve while I’m down here."
One of his main goals would be to bring more vibrancy and culture to the region.
"Southland it is a great place to raise family but then has a gap.
"We need to fill vibrancy [here] for younger people as well. That is hopefully something that I can push for and advocate for and get some traction."
When asked how he felt to be elected, he said he was "humbled."
"We have some really smart people in the board, but it is good to have more representation from different groups.
"I’m just humbled and looking forward to getting into it."
Mr Owen and Mr Brown were among six candidates vying for the votes of the 447 members of the chamber.
During the meeting, Mr McAra presented the chamber’s annual report, which showed a 17% increase in membership despite a challenging year with Covid-19.
"The chamber ends the financial year in a sound financial position. We are continuing to grow our networks, membership and deliver an expanded range of services," Mr McAra said.
"The Southland Chamber of Commerce is proud to take a leading role in showcasing and celebrating our local successes to strengthen our community, both in terms of growing the economy and population."