'Employment Bridges' now under construction In Rotorua
The Rotorua Business Chamber is launching the most intensive programme it has ever undertaken in the employment space to help local employers find staff.
'Bridges To Work' is being jointly funded by BayTrust, Rotorua Trust and the Ministry of Social Development to help local employers better articulate who and what they're looking for, and what job opportunities are available for school leavers and beneficiaries.
Rotorua Business Chamber chief executive Bryce Heard says national unemployment figures might look low on paper but in Rotorua there's not a shortage of people to employ – rather a shortage of people who are ready for employment.
According to the latest figures from MSD, there are about 5000 people currently on Job Seeker benefits in Rotorua which represents over 10 per cent of the working-age population. That's far in excess of the 3.4 per cent national unemployment rate.
Heard says there are many groups doing "great work" with local unemployed people, providing wrap-around services to help encourage, support, develop them and grow their skills.
"That's all very good and very necessary. But it's not hitting the key points that employers want hit.
"What the employers want is someone who will come to work with good aptitude and attitude and without an entitlement mentality. They don't necessarily have to be fully educated or trained; employers are happy to do their own training. At the moment, the employers' perspective is missing from the table."
Two part-time Advocates were appointed in late 2021 and a series of mini expos and other events are now being planned to help employers connect directly with school leavers and beneficiaries, allowing them to come into the workplace, test the waters and work their way into a job.
A group of employers (dubbed 'the gathering of the willing') has also been formed to have their say.
"They're coming up with some really constructive ideas and there's individual solutions for individual employers. So that's why we're calling it Bridges to Work. Because what works for one employer doesn't necessarily work for another," Heard explains.
Each of the funding agencies has contributed $37,500 to the project, with additional funding provided by the Ministry of Education for events aimed specifically at school leavers.
BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes says the money will be used to create opportunities for job seekers to find out more about Rotorua industries, as well as pay staff wages to facilitate the programme.
"The return on investment will be for Rotorua employers themselves. We need to create opportunities for all people who are looking for a job to be able to get a job.
"Sometimes we all know what the issues are in terms of recruitment and selection of staff but we always do the same things. Rotorua Business Chamber is trying to create a new model here focusing on employers so that we can help industry get new staff and hopefully keep them."
FountainVest investment in Ziwi approved
The shareholders of Ziwi have welcomed the Overseas Investment Office's approval of FountainVest Partners' investment in the Mount Maunganui-based natural pet food company.
The proposed investment by FountainVest Partners is now unconditional and was
completed on February 18, 2022.
Members of the executive team will reinvest, or make new investments into the
business as part of the same transaction, and the management team will continue to
lead the business.
Ziwi's managing director Richard Lawrence said the investment is about delivering sustainable long-term growth through the capital access and global market
intelligence that FountainVest Partners can provide.
"Maintaining Ziwi's high-quality standards and natural New Zealand-sourced
approach to pet nutrition remains our core principle in this new partnership, while
serving more pet guardians worldwide.
"The approval is an important milestone in Ziwi's ambitious global growth plan, which was envisioned when it launched in 2004."
Lawrence said the injection of capital will support the current team's successful strategy, which includes investment in new production kitchen capacity and sales and marketing
initiatives to meet the strong global demand for Ziwi's products in existing
and new markets.
With the business growth and global expansion, it also means greater use of New Zealand-sourced ingredients and improved returns to about 50 of Ziwi's farming and seafood suppliers across New Zealand, he said.
Lawrence said the investment hoped to create new job opportunities in New Zealand and
internationally over the long term.
University of Waikato hosts second annual NZ Economics Forum
The University of Waikato hosted the annual New Zealand Economics Forum this week to discuss the economic impacts of Covid-19 on dealing with the pandemic's long tail.
The 2022 New Zealand Economics Forum was held virtually on February 24 and 25 and provided a platform for debate and discussion of the country's response to Covid-19.
The keynote speaker lineup included former New Zealand Prime Ministers Rt Hon Jim Bolger and Rt Hon Helen Clark, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Adrian Orr and chief executive and secretary of the New Zealand Treasury Dr Caralee McLeish.
Other guest speakers included NZ Council of Trade Unions Economist Craig Renney, senior business leader Sir Robert McLeod, Professor Des Gorman, Professor Robin Gould and Rajna Patel from Tamaki Health.
This event was hosted by Waikato Management School, featuring Pro-Vice-Chancellor Matt Bolger, alongside special guest Steven Joyce.
University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley said these were "truly unprecedented" times.
"A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and the local and international public health response to it has produced an extraordinary level of disruption to the economy."
Quigley said two years into the pandemic the forum was a chance to take stock and assess whether the right policy responses were being made and if they will be adequate to meet the economic challenges in sectors as diverse as health, commerce, and education.
"The University is pleased to be able to offer a forum which gives economists, policymakers, and industry leaders the time and space to debate and discuss the complexities of managing our way out of a pandemic."
Event recap: BA5 Tourism Bay of Plenty / Flavours of Plenty
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce's first BA5 event for 2022 was a celebration of local businesses, food and flavours as Tourism Bay of Plenty launched the programme for its inaugural Flavours of Plenty Festival.
Held in the Tauranga Art Gallery, attendees were invited to enjoy a selection of local wines and beers, and tuck into their individually made hampers full of locally produced delights.
The festival is Tourism Bay of Plenty's flagship event and will take place across three days in April, at locations from Waihi Beach to Ohope.
Precision growing technology takes top honours at NZ business awards
A Bay of Plenty business dedicated to "the art of growing for a healthier world" is the supreme winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2021.
The winner, Bluelab, was announced at the awards' first-ever broadcast ceremony earlier this month.
Bluelab provides high-precision measurement technology for controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouses, vertical farms and hydroponic production.
Operating for more than 30 years, the business is internationally recognised and provides tools and systems to measure critical factors like pH, temperature and moisture levels when growing plants in controlled environments.
Bluelab's products are designed, manufactured and exported globally from its base of operations in Tauranga.
The business previously won the Excellence in Innovation category at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.
As well as the Supreme Award, chosen by a panel of judges, Bluelab earlier won a category award for Excellence in Digital Commerce Transformation, presented by the Minister for Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash.
The judges described Bluelab as a worthy Supreme Award winner, with its success driven by a high level of customer understanding and being present at every step of the customer journey. They also praised Bluelab's embrace of digital channels to enhance both customer experience and their own business resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A record 53 finalists made it through to the last stages of the awards for 2021, following a rigorous application and judging process. Winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges with extensive experience in growing businesses internationally.
The ceremony was delivered via a free online broadcast for the first time in the awards' 58-year history, in response to New Zealand's move to the red traffic light setting in late January.
David Downs, convenor of judges for the awards, said after an incredibly challenging two years in business, it was a pleasure to be able to recognise some "extraordinary" finalists and reveal the winners.
"Taking the event online was a big step for us, but it gave us a uniquely public platform to share some of the amazing business stories we encountered during judging and I'm sure there were a lot of proud people watching up and down the country.
"These businesses have really done Aotearoa proud, they're making remarkable progress in international markets, and they're bringing the results of that progress home to benefit all of us. I think that is worth shouting from the rooftops."
Taupō mineral recovery plant gets $2m
The Government is investing $2 million in a Taupō mineral recovery plant, it announced earlier this week.
Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash made the announcement at the site on Wednesday.
The money is to be invested in lithium recovery technology at Geo40 Limited.
In a statement, he said the technology had the potential to strengthen geothermal energy and advanced manufacturing sectors and contribute to a lower-carbon future.
The Geo40 website says lithium is currently extracted almost entirely through hard-rock mining or evaporation from salt lakes.
As demand for electric vehicles rose, so does the demand for resources such as lithium: Nash said the money would go to scaling up the technology at the facility at Ohaaki.
"If we can successfully build up Geo40's green technology to commercial scale, New Zealand could become an international leader in technology for the sustainable supply of lithium, and help to build lasting action on climate change."
The company had previously received a $15 million government loan and equity funding in 2019 for its silica technology.
It was the first Regional Strategic Partnership Fund investment and he said it delivered on a manifesto commitment to keep supporting regional economic development once the Provincial Growth Fund closed to applications.
The $200m fund was announced last May.
Nash said the Geo40 programme was in contrast to overseas methods of mining, which left a heavy carbon footprint.
The method at Geo40 was to sustainably recover lithium from geothermal brine, and return the water to the geothermal field.
The brine is a watery residue containing mineral compounds and is a by-product of geothermal electricity generation.
"It could also help meet New Zealand's 2050 carbon-neutral target and create jobs to support the economic recovery. Expanding geothermal energy and advanced manufacturing opportunities in Taupō will be significant to diversify its local economy."
He said the investment of $2m through Kānoa, the Regional Economic Development Unit, will see the Government take a further equity stake in Geo40 Limited.
The company's method of recovery would progress before moving to commercial production, and Nash said the investment meant it had the opportunity for growth without a burden of debt.
"Geo40 has a proven record of world-leading solutions to recover valuable minerals and elements from geothermal brine. It already exports silica, recovered from the Ohaaki site."
He said it was a collaboration between the Government, Geo40, the landowners and kaitiaki the Ngati Tahu Tribal Lands Trust, and power generator Contact Energy.
There were 215 government-backed regional economic development projects in Waikato, with approved funding of $273m.
Those in Taupō included the $20.6m redevelopment of the Taupō town centre and $5 million to revamp the airport.