Support package likely to help 'thousands' of firms

9:00 am on 23 March 2011

Thousands of Christchurch firms are expected to make use of a further $6.85 million support package to help them return to full strength following last month's devastating earthquake.

A survey of larger firms found 70% had coped with the quake, but others are struggling.

Money from the latest Government initiative will be used to help firms relocate, restock and provide legal and accounting services, reassure overseas customers that export orders will be fulfilled, and supply extra business recovery experts, workshops and business training.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend says the earlier employee wage subsidy scheme was vital for firms survival.

Now, specific help must be given to a finite number businesses - possibly 6000 or more.

While some in the Christchurch business community are describing the Government's package as a lifesaver, others fear the offer of financial assistance and business mentoring won't be enough.

The Secretary of the Canterbury Business Recovery Network, Mark Hau, says the package was never going to be a miracle cure.

Mr Hau says the Government's offer of financial help may help manufacturers but will do little to help retailers who have not only lost their stores, but also demand for their products.

The Canterbury Council of Trade Unions spokesperson Marty Braithwaite says the latest package is a good start to help revitalise quake-hit firms but workers should not be forgotten as the Government considers the next phase for the wage subsidy scheme.