Trust set up to help businesses after quake

Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC), the backers of Enable Networks and the organisation set up by the local council to promote, invest in, and support Christchurch businesses is at the forefront the business recovery effort. Computerworld spoke to its chief executive Bill Luff, who describes the progress made since the earthquake struck almost two weeks ago.

Trust set up for businesses

“What we’re doing is the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and CDC has formed a joint company called the Canterbury Business Recovery Group Ltd. That company is running under the and it is leading the business support response to the earthquake. We have a 0800 number for businesses to ring and on the first day of operation we took over 1000 calls.

“The issues of the current time are about people wanting access to their premises and the need for relocation. There are 6000 businesses inside the four avenues (the CBD’s cordoned-off area) that employ over 50,000 people and that’s not counting the suburban businesses that are affected, particularly in the east part of Christchurch.

“So this is a disruption of the economy on a scale that I doubt New Zealand has ever seen before. While businesses are hugely resilient there is a complete dearth of commercial office space, as well as a lot of displaced retailers. What we’re trying to do is put in support mechanisms to assist people over the next few weeks, which is a matter of survival.

“The wage subsidy has been extremely efficient in giving people more cash flow. In the first day of operation there were 4000 applications approved. The Ministry of Social Development who are administering this has really moved heaven and earth to get approvals through and (the money) in bank accounts that evening.

“What we’re doing now is discussing with government what additional support mechanisms would be effective within the entity that we’ve set up. At CDC we have just under 20 people who are client managing businesses and a call centre of eight and the relevant support staff. We’re looking to double those numbers and we need some resource to do that.

“We’re also setting up a trust fund specifically for business support. There are a number of funds that are available for general social support but nothing for business and we’ve had lots of lots of enquiries about making donations. We hope early this week to have this trust up and running so that people will be able to make donations specifically in support of businesses. That will be called the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust.”

Read the rest of this story at Computerworld.

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