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Consultants Recommend Changes To NRC Trust

Media release
Phone: 09 438 4639 Fax: 09 438 0012 www.nrc.govt.nz

Number of pages: 03
Date: 22 April, 2008


Consultants Recommend Changes To NRC Trust

An independent review has recommended significant changes to the way the $12 million Northland Regional Council Community Trust (NRCCT) is run.

The comprehensive report by Australasian consultants Morrison Low - commissioned by the Northland Regional Council - is recommending the Council have more direct involvement with the trust, which operates as Enterprise Northland.

Key recommendations include the Council managing the $12M fund as part of its overall investment portfolio and closer alignment between the two bodies in the promotion of Northland as a place for both companies and individuals to invest and work.

The report’s authors say the Regional Council should assume responsibility for production of quarterly economic indicator information that should be made available to all interested parties in the region.

They also recommend changes to the way the trust is funded and a more streamlined staffing structure with its workers sharing office space, administration, reception and secretarial services with the Council. And they say trustee numbers should also eventually be limited to a maximum of five, all paid appropriate market rates for their technical and board expertise.

The current seven-member NRCCT was formed in 1996 with the multimillion-dollar proceeds of the sale of some of the Regional Council’s majority shareholding in the Northland Port Corporation. It has two subsidiaries; regional tourism body Destination Northland Ltd (set up in 1997) and the Enterprise Northland Trust, which was established in 2002 and supports economic development and sustainable business.

Council Chairman Mark Farnsworth has welcomed the report’s findings, saying they represent a genuine attempt to ensure the trust operates as efficiently as possible and that the future partnership between Council and the trust is strong.

He says the report, compiled by a six-strong team over the past several months, found the 12-year-old trust was acknowledged as one of the most effective in the country, but could do more with a closer alignment with NRC.

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“The review is a stock-take about what will take us into the future. The overall goal is jobs and economic prosperity for our region and we want to be ‘match fit’ to help ensure we reach that goal.”

Trust Chairman Mike Simm says the report acknowledges the fact the Regional Council is now emphasizing economic development as a key platform for Northland’s long-term sustainability, provided environmental bottom lines can be met.

“This review is focused on making sure we have the best delivery of services that we can and aims to ensure that our economic development strategies are being implemented for the benefit of the whole region,” Mr Simm says.

The trust’s $2.4m income in 2006/07 was a mixture of local authority funding, return on investments and external funding for specific projects. The report acknowledges the variable nature of this arrangement and notes that activities can be driven by available funding, rather than strategies or business planning.

It also says Destination Northland should move on from its narrow focus on tourism to a wider role of marketing Northland to visitors as a place to invest, work and enjoy.

It recommends the Regional Council assumes responsibility for the management of the $12M capital investment fund - consolidating it with other Council investments – and provides the NRCCT with an agreed level of funding for at least three years, subject to a formal service contract.

The report’s authors say within two years Northland’s economic development agency and the Council should be more aligned on economic development matters and be operating more efficiently.

They also want to see an increased focus on strong relationships with key industry groups, university/technical institute partnerships, entrepreneurial capacity and small business support as well as a number of “seed funded” initiatives under way.

Mr Farnsworth says the report’s authors had recently separately briefed Regional Councillors and trust members on their findings and recommendations.

“The focus is now on consultation with NRCCT - and other consultation with major stakeholders that might be required - to determine the pathway forward for the implementation of the recommendations. We recognise the interest that the three District Councils have in this matter and they will be among the first that we consult with.”

oth Mr Farnsworth and Mr Simm say depending on the outcome of consultation, some of the report’s key recommendations will be implemented within months.


ENDS

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