One of the most depressed areas in New Zealand had a welcome boost today with a call centre company opening, creating up to 50 jobs in the small East Coast town.
Ruatoria has a population of 750, unemployment is around 15 per cent and the median wage is $17,000 a year.
Porirua-based call centre Connect Global needed to expand and saw a chance to benefit the Ruatoria community by opening a branch office in the town.
"Instead of getting the people to the jobs, take the jobs to the people," said Serena Fiso, Connect Global owner.
Fourteen people are employed at the call centre now and the aim is to expand to 50.
Ruatoria worker Vanessa Ngarimu, a mother-of-four, couldn't be happier about being upskilled to a new job at the call centre in a town where jobs can be tough to find.
"Fourteen to what, 50 jobs at once, that's just unreal to us," Ms Ngarimu said.
The company is also moving to the Taranaki town of Patea, creating 10 jobs there.
But there are challenges for firms in expanding to small communities.
It's not the remoteness of places like Ruatoria but a lack of fast internet that people in the town say is holding it back from ventures like Connect Global.
They're telling the Government to speed up the ultra fast broadband roll-out.