Central Otago Bike Trail v2

Our Story

Supporting the South since 1861

Providing business support, advocacy and expertise to help southern organisations succeed.

Business South is a voice for business, fostering a strong regional economy and a thriving business sector.

A strong business community contributes to the health and wellbeing of our local communities and ensures a sustainable, prosperous future.

Watch the video below to learn more about the goals and values we live, operate and measure ourselves by, as we work to achieve our vision of creating a thriving business environment that benefits the whole region.

Our History

  1. 1861

    Dunedin Chamber of Commerce

    The Dunedin Chamber of Commerce is formed during the Otago gold rush, as Dunedin enjoys an economic boom but is hampered by inadequate infrastructure.

  2. 1890

    The Otago Employers' Association Former

    The Otago Employers’ Association is formed in response to New Zealand’s first major industrial dispute.

    Maritime workers go on strike in support of their Australian counterparts who wish to form unions.

    The minutes from the Association’s first meeting recognise the workers’ rights and a desire for a peaceful solution.

  3. 1965

    Name Change

    Dunedin Chamber of Commerce changes its name to Otago Chamber of Commerce.

  4. 1971


    Southland Employers’ Association amalgamates with its Otago counterpart, forming the Otago Southland Employers’ Association.

  5. 1993

    An Amalgamation

    Otago Chamber of Commerce amalgamates with the Otago Southland Manufacturing Association and the Export Institute of Otago.

  6. 2001

    A New Network

    Business New Zealand is formed by the merger of the New Zealand Employers’ Federation and the New Zealand Manufacturers’ Federation.

    Otago Southland Employers’ Association becomes a founding member of the BusinessNZ network.

  7. 2006

    An Investigation

    Investigations begin into a merger between Otago Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers’ Association.

  8. 2017

    Plans Abandoned

    Plans to merge the Otago Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers’ Association are abandoned due to “governance and constitutional issues”.

    "Joining is a relatively complex process – even when you start out with good faith and the best of intentions," Chamber President David Shelton tells the Otago Daily Times.

  9. 2020

    What Members Want

    Members of Otago Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers’ Association vote to merge.

    OSEA members are unanimously in favour, while 78% of OCC members support the move.

    Both organisations believe the merger will create enhanced offerings and increased benefits for members.

  10. April 2021

    A New Legal Entity

    Under the oversight of an interim transition board, a new legal entity is created.

    The incorporated society is called Business South, and this becomes the working name of the new organisation. 

    July 2021

    New CEO

    After an extensive recruitment campaign, Michael (Mike) Collins takes up his role as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of Business South.

    September 2021

    A New Name

    The new organisation’s official name is announced as Business South: Otago Chamber and Southern Employers.

    Members were surveyed on the name, with more than 75% choosing Business South from three shortlisted name options.

    October 2021

    It's Official

    Business South officially comes into being, superseding the Otago Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers’ Association.

Businessman Presenting

Our Purpose

Tūhono. Whakatere. Whakamana

Connect. Navigate. Empower.

Steamer Wharf at dusk Queenstown Bay

Our Vision

Ka ora ai te taiao pakihi, ka ora hoki te hapori.

A thriving business environment that benefits the whole region.

Our Values





He Auaha











Our Pillars




Giving the region an influential voice on important issues.




Helping businesses achieve their vision of success throughout the business lifecycle.




Facilitating meaningful connections, partnerships, and collaborations.




We are an exemplar of a high performing business.