Chamber acknowledges Forbes’ contribution as new board members sought

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22 Feb 2023

As the call for new board members goes out to the public, the Southland Business Chamber paid tribute to outgoing board member and previous Chair Carla Forbes, the Chamber’s longest standing board member, acknowledging her exceptional commitment to the growth and development of Invercargill and Southland businesses during her tenure.

When joining the board and taking on the Vice President position in 2013, Carla was a driver in shaping a new era for the Southland Business Chamber, including restructuring, re-branding, revisiting all communications and repositioning it as a vibrant nexus of the business community.

In 2015, Carla became the Chamber’s first female president, a position which she held for three terms before stepping down when Neil McAra took the reins.

Southland Business Chamber Board Chair Neil McAra said Forbes’ passion for supporting and promoting local businesses was unwavering.

“Carla is known for being outspoken and action focused. She has headed some outstanding advocacy and has ensured the voice of the business community has been heard and their needs met,” he said.

As director of marketing agency Naked Creative, Forbes used her resources and position there to support businesses and actioned some bold moves to support the community.

Leading Stand Up for SIT, Forbes had Southland dress in orange and ran a campaign highlighting the need for the region’s voice to be heard during the polytechnic mega merger into Te Pūkenga.

During government negotiations with NZAS, Forbes set up a graveyard along Airport Avenue to welcome the Prime Minister and officials to represent the death of the local economy and Southland communities if the closure was immediate.

“I can’t just sit back and watch these defining community issues unfold. My passion for the people and businesses in our region is too strong,” Forbes said.

Auckland Business Chamber CEO Simon Bridges said it had been great interacting with Forbes in her capacity as a Board member for the Southland Chamber.

“She’s shown great energy, dedication and also long tenure, and she’s been a great advocate for her region. While Carla thinks it’s time to move on and I respect this, outside of the region, and I am sure inside, she will be missed,” Bridges said.

Forbes commented she will always be fiercely passionate about supporting business in Southland, but she believed governance roles should have a regular turnover.

“I’ve been on the Chamber board for a long time, and I’ll always be their loudest cheerleader from the sidelines,” she said.

Neil McAra commented Forbes’ leadership and strategic vision were instrumental in shaping the Chamber into the successful organisation it is today and her contributions will be greatly missed.

“The Chamber has experienced exceptional growth since Carla joined us, and the Board and members of the Southland Business Chamber extend their sincerest gratitude to Carla for her years of service and dedication to the Chamber and the wider business community,” he said.

Forbes praised the current governance and leadership at the Chamber as exceptional.

“The time and commitment from Neil McAra, Sheree Carey and the full team is commendable.

“There is so much work behind the scenes securing our business environment, celebrating success, and advocating to ensure all opportunities are realised, and few people really know all the behind-the-scenes work. I’m really proud to have been a small part of it,” she said.

As Carla moves on from the Chamber board, she looks forward to further supporting and promoting the growth and success of businesses in Invercargill and Southland in other capacities.

Nominations are now open for two new elected Board member positions for the Southland Business Chamber. Nominations must be lodged by this Friday 24 February. Contact for more information.

Carla graveyard