Operating a business can be a challenge. Many people with good ideas for a business don't always have the knowledge of the nuts and bolts skills to make a business successful. Over the years, Enterprise NZ via government funding has provided a range of free training programs to assist business owners suceed. The latest incarnation of this scheme in Marlborough has been BTM - Business Training Marlborough. In the face of the recession, the government decided to axe funding for the programme, and although BTM bravely tried to gain support for paid courses, in the current economic climate, many small businesses might have to think twice about spending on courses, and the writing has been on the wall. The inevitable has happened, and BTM has announced that it will wind up.
In other positive news, the government has announced the Air Force Hercules fleet will finally get its long awaited upgrade, and it will be done by Safe Air. Also, plans for a new visitor centre for Blenheim have been finalised, and this is set to go ahead, along with a refurbishment of the historic railway station.
At first glance, these positive moves seem to more than compensate for the closure of BTM, but things may not be as rosy as they first appear. The Hercules upgrade is being paid for by the government, Kiwirail, who will upgrade the station, is state owned, and the Blenheim visitor centre will be the home of Destination Marlborough, a council controlled company that is funded by rates and levies on tourist operators. What all of these have in common is that they effectively rely on some form of government funding. That's certainly not to deny that Safe Air contributes a huge amount to the Marlborough economy, nor that Destination Marlborough is tasked with promoting Marlborough in a way that will benefit many local businesses, however it is a concern that a service aimed specifically at encouraging local business sucess is going the way of the dodo and the moa.
Safe Air isn't exactly the sort of business that will attract visitors to the region, and both Kiwirail and Destination Marlborough depend on successful local business to give them a reason to be present in Marlborough. There's a possibility the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce will be able to step in and fill some of the gap left by BTM, although there will need to be a strong marketing effort to convince people to join up, and that the chamber represents good value for new members. Unfortunately it seems the government prefers to be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff with huge bail outs for the likes of South Canterbury Finance, instead of funding services that help businesses grow and thrive.
What do you think? If you use Facebook, you can discuss the closure of BTM in Marlborough Online's forum.