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Empty retail and office space in Oamaru's main street are a reflection of the Government’s lack of support for small business, Waitaki MP and National Small Business spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“I acknowledge the concerns of Oamaru retailers and the community at large over the array of empty premises - this is not the positive and vibrant look that we desire for our town.

“But what we are seeing in Oamaru is also being experienced in small towns across the country.

“Times are tough for small business, with online shopping and the presence of major chain stores having an impact, but I believe the Government must also take some responsibility here.

“Confidence amongst small businesses operators is consistently low. Many tell me they feel uncertain about the future, have concerns that the economy will deteriorate and are in no mood to invest or grow their enterprises.

“Skilled staff are increasingly hard to find, the Government’s industrial relations reforms are making people nervous and costs keep increasing with the minimum wage is set to rise in about 7 weeks’ time on April 1.

“No one wants to see empty shops in Oamaru – it does little to enhance the look of the area and sends a negative message to visitors and locals alike.

"There is growth and continued development in the Victorian Precinct, but we continue to struggle to fill shops on the Main Street.

“I am concerned that nothing will improve until this Government changes its economic policies and does more to support small business and regions like North Otago.”

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