Wellington Business Expo 2020
The Business Community's Opportunity to Reconnect, Re-engage and Rebuild, with a Two-Week Business Showcase of Online and In Person Events
The Business Expo being held online is believed to be a first for New Zealand.
The expo, to be held between October 12-22, is organised by the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce. Chief Executive Helen Down says it is breaking new ground by going online as well as featuring a programme of smaller in-person events throughout the two-week long business showcase.
The Expo will feature livestream broadcasts along with other online activities showcasing businesses from across the Wellington region, an in-person Economics Business Breakfast, several Business Safaris, a Manufacturers and Technology Forum and other in-person targeted events.
“Covid-19 is teaching us all to embrace technology in our working environment and business community and to blend it to our day-to-day business operations,” she says. “It has also created a strong movement towards ‘love local’.
“Given the ongoing economic difficulties being experienced because of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to bring businesses together to support each other at a local level.”
Down says the chamber’s July Business Confidence survey revealed 35 per cent of respondents wanted events to bring the business community together – a finding she says illustrates how vital the expo is.
“We have a lot of manufacturing businesses in Hutt Valley, many of whom supply essential products and services and we can’t afford to have them going out of business. Not only are they part of our longer term recovery, but they will be needed whatever this pandemic throws at us.”
The survey (sponsored by Red Hot Business Coaching & Consultancy) showed a lack of confidence among businesses throughout the wider Wellington region; 54 per cent of respondents believe the business situation in New Zealand will be moderately or substantially worse in the next three months, with 58 per cent predicting a similar outlook for the next six months.
More than 58 per cent reported a drop in profitability in the last three months, while 89 per cent saw the pandemic as the single biggest barrier to improving confidence. Almost half – 47 per cent – saw uncertainty in government policy as a major obstacle.
Down says the chamber is keen to do whatever it can to help businesses help themselves: “By using a digital space we can showcase local businesses on a platform that enables them to connect beyond what’s been done before. Now is the perfect time to bring businesses together.
“An online expo creates greater reach for far longer,” she says. “It’s an innovative leap forward for the expo model which is usually held over one day and then it’s done; this year the expo will run for two weeks and the virtual stands will remain online for up to 12 months.”
As the economic impact of Covid has been felt, Down says another group which has lost confidence is young people. She says many young – among them secondary school students – have lost casual work in industries such as tourism and hospitality in the wake of the pandemic.
She says many were using their work to help finance tertiary study. But as they face this drop in income – and see job losses mounting throughout the country – “they don’t have the confidence they will ever find work; it is making them very nervous.”
Down says the online expo also aims to help allay these fears. It will highlight local trade-based job opportunities and help bring local youth and employers together through the Education To Employment Careers Showcase – another first for the expo.
This showcase aims to help establish work experience opportunities for school leavers and, through that, pathways into fulltime careers and will be one of many events at the expo.
Down says the expo is a chance for companies to promote their brand, form new connections and drum up new business. “Exhibitors will attract online visitors with their online stands, expo-only deals and competitions, while at the same time encourage connections by leaving virtual business cards.