05 April 2017

Chamber of Commerce president returns for second term

Achieving the goals set out by the Southland Regional Development Strategy is the key focus for returning Southland Chamber of Commerce president Carla Forbes.

The Market South creative director will take up her second term as president following the chamber’s annual general meeting on April 6, where she is running unopposed for the position.

While the focus of ensuring Southland’s economy is strong and prosperous remains the same, Forbes said the conversation around the issue had changed with the arrival of the SoRDS plan.

“It is vital to our strategy.

“The Chamber views SoRDS as a key opportunity and platform to drive Southland forward, with Southland business working collaboratively with our civic and community leaders.

“Whilst SoRDS is new to the conversation, it is fundamental to our future.

“It’s not a question of whether it does or doesn’t fit in to our plans – it is pivotal.”

She said Southland faced issues similar to much of regional New Zealand, including the need to diversify industry, halt regional retraction, and attract new people to the workforce.

Strong communication with members, community leaders and central government had been a key focus of the Chamber in the past five years, and would also be important to drive SoRDS projects forward into the future, she said.

“I’d like to think I lead from the front – I like to lead, not push.

“I want to empower and enable other people, so my role is to fan the fire and then get out of their way.”

After serving as the vice-president of the chamber, she was first elected to the position of president in 2015.

It came during a time of transition for the chamber, when the board spent a significant amount of time evaluating its role within the region.

“Over the past years we have spent a significant amount of effort looking at our value proposition, so our activities offer real value to business.

“If they don’t, we cull it and offer only activity that offers material benefit to our members and Southland business.”

“There have been huge changes over the last five years – we have continuously reviewed and been ruthless operationally, to ensure we run the chamber efficiently and utilise best possible practise.”

At the annual general meeting on April 6, three new candidates (out of a total of six) would be elected to join the board for the next term.

“Having new ideas and opinions at the board table is going to be positive.

“The next term will be busy – we have some ambitious tasks ahead but we have a motivated, connected board and a talented hard working team at the chamber.”