Businesses need support - and here’s what we can all do about it

Many businesses shut or were forced to leave staff go. We are available to offer support if you...
Many businesses shut or were forced to leave staff go. We are available to offer support if you need it. Photo: Supplied
Twenty twenty has been a year like no other.

Around the world lives have been changed irrevocably.

Thankfully, New Zealand avoided the worst of the public health impacts. But our business community has been hugely affected, with even the best laid plans well and truly being put to the test.

Companies have faced huge uncertainty, job losses, strained budgets and widespread disruption. I’ve been at the coal face, hearing first-hand from those affected and whose future is unclear.

Our thoughts are with those companies. We, as a community, might sometimes feel helpless but we can do our bit.

We can continue to spend and support local businesses – ultimately keeping money moving in the economy can and will save jobs.

It’s also important to remember that many businesses have grown in spite of Covid-19. Indeed, the can-do attitude of Cantabrians has seen many businesses rise to the challenge and grasp opportunities arising from these unprecedented times.

Christchurch has not been spared from the effects of Covid-19. Thousands of businesses have...
Christchurch has not been spared from the effects of Covid-19. Thousands of businesses have reached out for support. Photo: Supplied
ChristchurchNZ’s Economic Recovery Index, which measures the region’s activity against a national benchmark, has shown us hold up relatively well so far.

But there’s a long way to go and businesses absolutely do need support and help.

Here at ChristchurchNZ, my job along with our partners, such as the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, is to facilitate support services to businesses impacted by Covid-19.

A key part of this support has been the Regional Business Partner Network, through which we have engaged with more than 4000 Canterbury businesses since March and have allocated over $6.5 million to those businesses for access to expert advice and support to help them navigate the changed business environment resulting from Covid-19.

We usually work with about 670 businesses a year, so it’s fair to say 2020 has been hectic.

This support was delivered as part of the Business Survival workstream within the Ōtautahi Christchurch Socio-Economic Recovery plan.

The importance of businesses accessing specialist advice right now can’t be understated. It can mean they are better equipped to adapt, make important decisions and act. If this is ringing true with your business, there is support available to you.

Businesses like Rollickin’ Gelato and Untouched World were among the thousands who sought Covid-19-related support.

Peri Drysdale, chief executive of Untouched World, told us that while technical support was helpful, “it’s been really nice to know people are out there looking after the business community”.

“The support we received will make the climb out of this much more effective and has set us up for growth,” Drysdale said.

I’ve also been working personally with Jed Joyce, the founder of Rollickin’, to help them through this changing business environment.

They felt the pinch from January 2020 and were forced to close their Arts Centre store. They were worried keeping the store open would negatively impact their stores on New Regent St and in Cashel Mall, the latter of which opened just eight weeks before the March lockdown.

They reached out for support with legal services, HR expertise and advice on innovating “when bricks and mortar became irrelevant”.

Joyce told us that the support they got from our team helped to “understand our customer base and innovate to future-proof the business”.

It’s stories like this that make the work we do worthwhile.

Whether your business is moving into recovery mode and looking for guidance, or focused on building capability and growth, there are resources and support available through the Regional Business Partner Network designed to help you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  • By Dianna Rhodes, business growth manager at ChristchurchNZ

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