A poll of Waikato businesses has shown that 92 per cent of respondents have not had to lay off staff during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Waikato Chamber of Commerce poll of its business members also found that almost 79 per cent had applied for and received the Government's Wage Support Subsidy.
The poll was conducted last Friday and will be repeated fortnightly.

"It's reassuring to see that Waikato businesses are accessing the Government's financial support mechanisms to help keep people in jobs," executive director of the chamber, Don Good, said.

"What we are seeing is that business in the Waikato is doing the right thing in difficult circumstances, by keeping people and supporting their families. They're showing the Kiwi ethos of supporting each other through tough times.

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"The opportunity is for Waikato people to get in and support business by buying from them once we come out of lockdown.

"Because the simple act of getting on and doing business, purchasing goods and services will ensure we don't have mass layoffs, and that the social and business fabric remains intact.

"It really is telling that the small medium businesses out there are owned and operated by really good buggers!"

New support centre gives helping hand for Waipā businesses

Local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will benefit from a new phone-based support centre.

The new Waikato Business Support Service has been charged with helping businesses survive, revive and thrive post-Covid-19.
Business development manager at Waipā District Council, Steve Tritt, has been seconded to the Waikato Business Support Service on a fixed-term basis, and will be carrying out welfare checks with small to medium Waipā businesses as early as next week.

"At alert level 3, businesses are planning for a return to business albeit at a lower level. Some still can't," Tritt said.

Business development manager at Waipā District Council, Steve Tritt, has been seconded to the Waikato Business Support Service. Photo / File
Business development manager at Waipā District Council, Steve Tritt, has been seconded to the Waikato Business Support Service. Photo / File

"This initiative is all about making sure businesses are provided with right the resources and can access the support they need.

"We'll be checking in on how they're doing, looking at what challenges they're facing, and connecting them with the right people and organisations as we work through the different Alert Levels and move into the recovery period post-COVID-19."

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The new Waikato Business Support Services links in with Te Waka's wider work programme aimed at supporting Waikato businesses through these uncertain times.
Tritt said the Waipā economy was in top shape prior to Christmas with the third-highest economic growth across New Zealand at around 5 per cent.

"Waipā now has a new challenge ahead to have our businesses survive and recover a new level of operation."

Prior to lockdown, Waipā had 24,000 persons employed, with the largest employment sectors being agriculture, construction and manufacturing followed by retail and education. Our small businesses are active in all these sectors.

While some businesses are connected to industry bodies like Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand Law Society, others are relying on information provided by Ministry for Business and Innovation and the Covid-19 website, which does not drill down to support available locally.

"I'm interested to work with to food producers and hospitality businesses that will have reduced business due to lower visitor flows and will likely take longer to get back to normal business.

"Construction is an important sector which grew strongly of the last five years. Council is processing online building permit applications and is limited inspections can be scheduled where physical distancing can occur."

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The new Business Support website lists business webinars available free and on-demand. Links also provide information for exporters, Deloitte insights and access to a one-off Waikato economy update webinar provided by Infometrics Senior Economist Brad Olsen.
Te Waka has access to specialist support from KPMG, Deloitte and PWC, as well as the weekly economic radar released every Wednesday.

Te Waka CEO Michael Bassett-Foss said the Waikato business network as a whole is strong and will continue to rally to recover from the Covid-19 fallout.

Michael Bassett-Foss, CEO of Te Waka. Photo / Supplied
Michael Bassett-Foss, CEO of Te Waka. Photo / Supplied

"The economic situation changes daily. Te Waka's job is to work with Waikato businesses to pool resources, accelerate business recovery and enhance business capability.

"This service is taking a longer-term view and thinking about reviving economic activity and growth in the region post Covid-19," said Bassett-Foss.

"For businesses, after taking care of your people, I stress the need to take care of your cashflow – get some help and forecast out months," he said.

Businesses can call the Waikato Business Support Service for help on 07 929 4673 WBZ HOPE or find out more about the initiative at www.waikatobusinesssupport.nz.

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