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Councils Signal Renewed Approach To Economic Development

Hawke’s Bay councils will start reviewing future economic development models this week, in a bid to improve support structures for the region’s business community, which enable them to prosper and succeed.

The region’s councils are ready to begin the conversation with local partners as they seek to progress recommendations from the Review of local government investment in business and industry support across the Hawke’s Bay region. A recommendation from the report is the development of a new non tourism regional economic development agency to lead activities, and the opportunity to co-design and embed a partnership with Māori in the new model.

The councils commissioned the review in August 2020 recognising the need to embrace opportunities to improve regional coherence of economic development and wellbeing investments. 

Business Hawke’s Bay (BHB) signalled in December that it was considering closing its doors. Should BHB decide to wind-up operations, the region’s councils have committed to supporting a transition of the entity’s functions in the new operating model. This includes ensuring the Hawke’s Bay Business Hub continues to operate and a continuation of service for local businesses remains.

The presentation of the review to councils is very much the first step in a multi-phased approach before any decisions can be made on a future regional entity. Councils are being asked to support a further phase of work to develop a detailed proposal for a new regional economic development platform.

The Chief Executives intend commissioning the next phase of the review process to develop a more detailed new operating model and transition plan, which they propose will be co-designed with Matariki programme partners and other regional stakeholders. When the next stage of the review process is completed a further and final report will be brought to councils to seek decisions to formally undertake community consultation on the options and preferred recommendations. This is expected mid 2021.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council Chair Rex Graham says, “It’s now time to consider this report and the next steps to future proof the economic development and well-being of the region.”

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker says, “There is a real opportunity for Hawke’s Bay to now strengthen how the region approaches economic development, in a new model that can add value in a more targeted way.”

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise says, “The review is important because the information in it gives councils confidence that they’re investing in what is needed to improve economic development in the region. This review has given us a strong mandate towards the creation of a new economic development agency for Hawke’s Bay.”

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says, “Hawke’s Bay is stronger when we work together. There’s real power in iwi, business and council collective leadership. We are committed to ensuring the region is best placed for continued investment and growth in the future.”

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says, “Once councils have received the report, the next step is to engage with our communities, Tangata Whenua, Matariki programme partners and business groups. No decisions will be made until this consultation is done.”

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