Boom season for CO businesses

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YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

Central Otago businesses and the horticulture sector are reporting a positive summer and looking forward to an upbeat year.

Central Otago business people are looking forward to a positive and upbeat year, on top of a strong season from orchardists and high hopes for the viticulture sector.

Cromwell Business Network spokesman Greg Wilkinson said the viticulture, education and retail sectors in and around Cromwell were going “gang busters”.

“Even though our business group has not met since before Christmas, I have reason to believe the optimism and business confidence from last year will continue this year,” Mr Wilkinson said.

Even the early horticultural season is contributing to the positive atmosphere among the business sector.

He said he had heard the grape harvest was likely to be two or three weeks earlier than in previous years, and therefore workers would continue to be needed.

“That has an impact on the local economy,” he said.

“Looking around at different wineries’ social media pages, there are lots of postings of grapes starting to ripen.”

He said a second pharmacy had opened in Cromwell, as had a second gym, another bar and another restaurant, in the past year.

The changes were adding a new vibrancy and new life to the Cromwell Mall.

A second liquor retail outlet had opened and a second supermarket, Fresh Choice, was indicating it would be open in February.

Other accommodation and activity facilities are also in planning stages or under way.

“From my perspective, I have seen lots of jobs advertised, including a lot in the trades.

“One social media post was an inquiry on behalf of a 17-year-old looking for an apprenticeship and he had five responses.

“It is quite easy to find apprenticeships.”

He had been told by an engineer that the most stable segment of his workforce were the apprentices, as they were tied to the job for three years, while the others came and went, and once they got their ticket, they moved on.

“The most significant development planned is the Otago Polytechnic’s Central Campus accommodation block [student village], which they are building in response to the high cost and demand for accommodation in the area.”

In addition, he said the polytechnic wanted to increase the number of fulltime equivalent students from 200 to 350 and further develop its Bannockburn campus.

He said one of the focuses would be building a workshop for carpentry and automotive engineering students.

“That is really positive and is going to be a significant contributor to our growth.”

Local wineries and restaurants were experiencing record numbers and cellar doors had “been heaving” with the increased number of tourists.

The new “Four Barrels Walking Wine Tour” had been popular and the introduction of e-bikes made tourists more mobile and that had proved positive, as well.