Government's New "Biz" Centres Launch TodayBusiness Development
The Government's new business development strategy (BIZ) is being launched today with the opening of seven BIZinfo centres around the country.
They are the first of 33 BIZinfo centres to open around the country over the next month. Prime Minister Jenny Shipley will officially launch the Wellington office this morning, along with Business Development Minister Peter McCardle. Other centres open today in Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wairarapa, Levin, and Lower Hutt.
BIZinfo centres are shopfront offices which have been set up to provide one-stop information sources about all the help available to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), including the free training, advice and upskilling being paid for by the Government. Small and medium businesses are the target of the BIZ programme.
The centres are the public face of the Business Information Service which is being operated under contract to the Government by a company called NBIS.
"There's no point having a great product or service if you don't have the skills to run a company properly," Mr McCardle said. "All too often, people operating small businesses are in the dark about what help is available, or too busy to go searching for advice, training, or other help. Now they can go to one place to find out everything they need to know.
"A great variety of help is available but I'm sure many of the country's 260,000 small and medium size businesses don't even realize what is out there."
Each centre will have trained staff as well as computer terminals and printed material such as brochures. Most centres will be full-service, but two smaller sites will offer limited services and refer clients to other locations as necessary.
In addition there will be an 0800 BIZinfo number (0800 424 946) and an Internet BIZinfo site (www.bizinfo.co.nz).
BIZ aims to boost business performance by improving the quality of management decision making. Poor-quality decision making is a common reason for businesses failing. "They may be small, but SMEs are vitally important because they make up over 80 per cent of the country's businesses, produce a huge chunk of GDP, and employ a large percentage of the workforce," Mr McCardle said.
The second major element of BIZ is the free management training, help and upskilling being made available to SMEs. The Government is providing the funding, and 46 organisations with business expertise will deliver the free services which include:
- workshops, seminars, forums and mentoring
- strategic planning networking,
- IT, accounting and cashflow training
- business needs assessment
- financial forecasting, HR management and legal compliance training
Many of the those services are already underway and proving popular. Between March and June, 450 training sessions are being provided to the business community.
Mr McCardle said "We will be spending as little as possible on the administration of BIZ to help as many small businesses as we can, so it will be a big improvement on the past. The BIZ programme as a whole is costing just over $12 million a year. In total the Government will be spending around $100 million dollars this year promoting New Zealand businesses and enterprise."