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The government has committed $6.85 million to a carefully targeted economic recovery package to help Canterbury businesses severely affected by the two major earthquakes get back on their feet, according to a press release from the Beehive.

The package includes money for business recovery coordinators, international visits for exporters to key clients, a trust fund for those in need following the quakes, and more money for workshops and business training.

“This is a needs-based package developed in conjunction with the Canterbury business community – it reflects what they’ve told us they need and we’ll continue talking in the months ahead to respond as their needs change,” Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said.

Brownlee and Acting Economic Development Minister David Carter made the announcement in Christchurch today alongside Canterbury business leaders.

Carter said the funding would go towards local initiatives that would help restore the confidence of businesses, maintain their financial liquidity, and support ongoing operations.

“The package includes $1.7 million to extend the reach of the local recovery team by recruiting new business recovery coordinators.

“The new coordinators will assess businesses’ needs and refer them to the right services, as well as facilitate access to funding sources,” Carter said.

A one-off donation of $2.5 million has been earmarked for the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust Fund, a new private sector initiative that will help fund the needs identified by local businesses, like professional services or relocation costs.

The fund has been set up by the Canterbury Business Recovery Group – led by the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce and the Canterbury Development Corporation – to facilitate business-to-business donations.

To help build confidence in doing business with New Zealand following the February earthquake, a $2 million fund to support visits to international markets by earthquake affected export businesses will be made available through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. This will cover 75% of eligible travel expenses.

A further $650,000 will also be made available for businesses to access training, workshops and business coaching.

Brownlee said while a significant number of Canterbury businesses were fully operational the government knew it wasn’t easy for some to get back on their feet after so many setbacks.

“By taking a partnership approach to economic recovery, we’re aiming to put the right people and the right services where they can make the most difference,” he said.

“Exporters have expressed concerns about how people outside New Zealand perceive the ongoing effects of the earthquake on business.

“The funding to support visits to international markets will help them meet clients face-to-face, reinforce ongoing relationships and reassure them that Christchurch, and New Zealand, is open for business.”

Brownlee and Carter said the government would continue to work in partnership with Canterbury’s business sector to develop further initiatives to help local businesses get trading again.

The $6.85 million funding for the economic recovery package will come from a realignment of funding within the Ministry of Economic Development.

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