Queenstown has already seen thousands of redundancies since the Covid-19 pandemic began and the town’s business sector has been shaken to its core.
“We could lose 8,000 jobs by the end of March 2021,” President of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Craig Douglas says.
The town’s Chamber of Commerce has taken a proactive approach though and has launched an initiative to help businesspeople stay connected called WeAreCommunity.
The Chamber, with the support of Westpac, is offering free individual, one-year memberships to people in managerial and senior leadership positions who have been made redundant over the past three months.
The purpose of the programme is to help support these people who will now be looking to find alternative employment, with the aim to help keep them stay connected to the business community.
“These people are valuable assets in Queenstown’s economic recovery phase,” the Chamber of Commerce says.
This membership offers the opportunity to attend the Chamber’s networking and education events as well as being kept informed of employment initiatives across the district.
Craig Douglas says the town has had a positive boost from school holiday travellers, but the future is uncertain.
“We’re seeing more and more domestic visitors which is good, but we need that to grow,” he says.
“This membership will provide networking events and building block courses to upskill business owners and their staff and connect people.
“The foundation is that there are very good people here that we don’t want to lose,” Douglas says.
Queenstown’s hardest hit industry is tourism but it's not the only one.
“There’s a flow on effect that reaches lawyers and HR people. A lot of industries are struggling,” Douglas says.
Queenstown Lakes District Council’s economic development advisor Sharon Fifield agrees that talent retention is essential to recovery.
“It’s so important that we don’t lose touch with this valuable group of people as they will play a part in our recovery.
“Opportunities for training and redeployment will become available and it’s important that this group of people keep connected to take advantage of this,” she said.
Westpac NZ Area Commercial Manager Phil Moore says right now it’s more important than ever for business leaders to stay connected to their peers.
“This is a great initiative. We’re pleased to be helping the individuals who will be helping Queenstown find its feet again.
“These people are passionate about Queenstown and have a wealth of expertise that will be invaluable to the town in the near future,” he said.
The Westpac WeAreCommunity membership has now launched at the Chamber BA5.
People can sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org