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New regional development agency gets the green light

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The region’s five councils have unanimously agreed to support the establishment of a new regional development agency.

This will see a joint annual investment of $1.7 million to an independent entity governed equally between business, iwi/hapū and local government.

The decision follows a comprehensive review of local government investment in business and industry support across Hawke’s Bay by economic development consultant Gus Charteris.

The review highlighted a range of inefficiencies with the current system and a clear opportunity to do better to meet the region’s needs and potential.

The entity will support businesses and sectors in the region, focusing on priority areas or issues and ultimately supporting growth and productivity across the regional economy.

The platform will also present a strong and united voice and vision to external investors, talent and Central Government.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair Rick Barker says it’s clear that the region needs to create a strong economic development voice. “The case for change is compelling. We need to work in a more unified way with local businesses and with our treaty partners and this is the best structure to achieve a dynamic entity for the progress of Hawke’s Bay.”

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says she is delighted with the decision by the five councils, who all understand the importance of a united entity to support our region’s business community and the wellbeing of our people.

“These are incredibly exciting times. Our region is an economic and export powerhouse and we are seeing a lot of investment across Hawke’s Bay.

"To manage both future challenges and grow opportunities we need a strong and collective voice, visionary plan and regional platform to deliver for our region.

“Ensuring this entity has the mana, mandate and funding to succeed today and into the future is an absolute priority. The 400%+ increase in funding shows the commitment to ensure this happens," she says.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says Wairoa’s elected members were supportive of the regional entity but stressed the importance of accountability and benefit back to the Wairoa community.

“Central Government has sent us a clear message that we will be disadvantaged in our dealings with them without a regional entity. We need to unite around regional objectives and priorities for future funding.”

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise says a regional development agency will have the scale and capacity to build services and support for business over the long term, which is what’s needed for robust economic development.

“We have seen our business community and key industries stay optimistic through some challenging times and facing a raft of uncertainty. They are ready to come back stronger and smarter and we want to put in place support that will help them do that. "How regions respond to the aftermath of COVID-19 will have a huge impact on local economies, and Hawke's Bay is positioned to make the most of every opportunity as long as we get behind our business and industry community and all work together."

“We have a range of incredible businesses here with real potential to innovate and expand, and we can uplift the whole of Hawke’s Bay by supporting them with investment, talent attraction and by telling the Hawke’s Bay brand story, collectively and in unison," she says.

Hawke’s Bay businesses have indicated widespread support for the proposal acknowledging the critical need for the region to speak with one, unified voice.

Napier Port Chief Executive Todd Dawson says this is an exciting step forward for Hawke’s Bay.

"We have been seeking a cohesive approach and clear point of contact on economic development issues and opportunities for some time.

“It’s pleasing to see where councils have landed with this and the clear commitment to provide the structure and level of resource to give regional economic development delivery the appropriate scale and mandate," he says.

The Te Kāhui Ōhanga o Takitimu collective (TKO) informally represents certain Iwi/Māori economic interests in Hawke’s Bay and has been working with councils throughout the review process.

TKO Chairman Robin Hape says any new way forward to support Māori economic development will require a different approach and focus on adding value to Māori aspirations.

“A more effective model could enable improved regional economic and social outcomes for whānau, hapū and iwi and we support the direction and commitment to a partnered approach.

“The value of the Hawke’s Bay Māori economy is significant at over half a billion dollars and we will be key contributors to the regional economy going forward," he says

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor and Matariki Governance Group Co-chair Alex Walker says this step is a credit to the hard work and commitment of all partners to the region’s economic development efforts over the last five years and will take the region to the next level.

“Through Matariki, the region has a clear view of success based on an energised and innovative economy which is not only delivering business success, but equity of outcomes across households and whānau.

“In Central Hawke’s Bay we are looking forward to having a regional powerhouse to lead a united voice on the truly transformational issues including things like primary sector diversification, use of technology, logistics and water security," she says.

It is anticipated that the entity will be up and running 1 July 2022 and councils expect to begin the planning process before Christmas. There will also be further engagement and information provided to communities through councils’ Annual Plan processes early next year.

10 December 2021

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