19 Sep 2018

Christchurch business' post-quake battle recognised at awards

4:13 pm on 19 September 2018

Christchurch businesses' efforts to battle back from the quakes will be recognised at the city's annual business awards tonight.

Christchurch construction.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Although the rebuild is ongoing, businesses said the disasters had made them more resilient and shaped them for the better.

The awards have been running for 15 years and feature 39 businesses in 13 categories.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leeann Watson said the earthquakes had opened up more opportunities for businesses in Christchurch.

She said the city had changed its focus.

"This is a real city of opportunity. People are prepared to invest and come to Christchurch and give things a go. Businesses from offshore are coming here and testing new technology - that's hugely exciting.

Leeann Watson said new developments were starting to take shape in the central city.

"We've got this amazing opportunity ahead of us to build a new city and we're well advanced with that now. We're seeing some of the anchor project come online later this year, the likes of the Hoyts movie complex in the central city, the new central library."

Award nominee Kilmarnock Enterprises is based in Wigram and provides employment, training and support to people with disabilities.

Chief executive officer Michelle Sharp said they almost lost everything when the first quake struck.

"We stood on the precipice of financial collapse at the time - but incredible how from that adversity we created opportunity because that forced us into looking at our operation in a very different way."

Michelle Sharpe said they had to change their approach to survive.

"Really what we've demonstrated since the earthquake is looking outside the square and finding new opportunities - little things, like helping when Container City came up by fitting out some of the containers."

Rolleston-based school programme provider Busy Bumbles has been nominated in the small business category at the awards.

Owner Rebecca Scott said they had to have their venues checked and reassure children after the quakes.

She said they had to adapt quickly because the district's population boomed after the quakes.

"A plus side of it is the growth out in Selwyn has been huge. That has enabled us to grow our venues and the number of children we have enrolled with all the people that are moving out this way," said Rebecca.

ChristchurchNZ, the city's economic development agency, said more than 6000 businesses were operating in the central business district before the quakes, but it dropped to about 3900 in 2017.

The agency is still collating numbers for this year.