‘Humbled’ to get the nod

Simon Owen is the youngest board member to be elected since the Southland Chamber of Commerce began in 1863.

THE youngest member in the history of the Southland Chamber of Commerce has been elected to bring “vibrancy” and diversity to the board.

During the chamber’s annual general meeting last Thursday, marketing consultant Simon Owen (23) was formally inducted as a new board representative, along with Southland/Otago Farm Machinery group manager Tim Brown.

President Neil McAra said Mr Owen was the youngest board member to be elected since the chamber began in 1863.

“It is good to have new perspective and diversity in our board.”

A born-and-bred Southlander, Mr Owen is founder and marketing consultant of The Orange Sheep, which in about five years of operation gathered clients like Stabicraft and Fat Bastard Pies.

“They are clients that have grown with me, and I’m incredibly grateful for them. I’m proud of the fact that, without my strategy contribution, these businesses would not have grow as forcefully in the direction they have. My work has added to their unique edge.”

The company was founded while he was still doing his studies at the Southern Institute of Technology.

“I grew up down here, studied down here and started my own business here.

“Putting my name for the board was the natural step from those relationships I built and for the things I want to achieve while I’m down here.”

He said one of his main goals would be to advocate for the region, and bring more vibrancy and culture to Southland.

“Southland is a great place to raise a family but then has a gap. We need .. vibrancy for younger people as well. That is hopefully something that I can push for and advocate for and get some traction.”

Asked how he felt to be elected, he said he was “humbled.”

“We have some really smart people in the board, but it is good to have more representation from different groups.”

Mr Owen and Mr Brown were elected from six candidates who received votes from the 447 members of the Southland Chamber of Commerce.

During the meeting, Mr McAra presented an annual report that showed a 17% increase in membership despite a challenging year with Covid-19.

“The Chamber ends the financial year in a sound financial position are continuing to grow our networks, membership and deliver an expanded range of services.”