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International networking starts in Auckland

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister for Economic Development

25 February 2008 Media Statement

International networking starts in Auckland

Auckland small business owners will have the chance to hone their business skills by working with large organisations in an internationally successful training and business networking programme being piloted by the government.

Economic Development Minister Pete Hodgson announced today that two PLATO pilot networks will be run in Auckland over the next two years.

“PLATO is an innovative business peer support and mentoring programme that has been very successful in many European countries. The project arose in New Zealand as an Export Year initiative. It is another example of the Labour-led government supporting local businesses to further develop business capability.

“Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will receive mentoring and training from some of New Zealand’s leading international companies to help them improve their management systems and gain a better understanding of how to access global markets. Larger companies involved will also receive comprehensive training and will have the opportunity to further position their companies as experts in the management and growth of SMEs in New Zealand.

“Throughout the programme, leaders and participants will learn from their European counterparts in order to benchmark themselves against best practices and build links with an international network of innovative companies.“

Pete Hodgson said that approximately 10-12 SMEs are likely to be in each of the two pilot groups. At the end of the two years, the PLATO project will be evaluated to determine its effectiveness in building management capability in New Zealand firms.

Accounting and business advisory firm WHK Gosling Chapman have been awarded the contract to provide the training and facilitation for the programme on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and Auckland regional economic development agency AucklandPlus, who will be responsible for the overall delivery of the pilot programme. The programme is expected to begin in June.


The members of the steering group that will provide advice and leadership on the strategic direction of the programme:
- Kate Abelson, General Manager, Biz Networks
- David Foley, Training Events Manager, Employers and Manufacturers Association
- Paul Gordon, Director, Catalyze
- Colin McKinnon, Chief Advisor, Ministry of Economic Development
- Susan Milner, Manager Business Capability and International Connections, AucklandPlus
- Alison Quesnel, International Manager NZ & UK, Blackmores Ltd.
- Ray Schofield, Chief Executive, Business Mentors New Zealand
- Carole Wright, Manager Business Services, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

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