The Board of Hawke’s Bay Inc is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, February 2.
HB Inc deserves a lot of public attention. Arguably, as the region’s economic development agency, HB Inc has as much potential to shape the direction and quality of the Bay’s growth as any elected body in the region. Here at BayBuzz, we intend to monitor its activities as closely as we would any council.
HB Inc’s mission: “To competitively market Hawke’s Bay as a place to visit, live, work, invest and grow.”
With a new Chairman, Regional Councillor Neil Kirton, and relatively new General Manager, Janet Takarangi, HB Inc is poised to bring fresh thinking and ambition to the table. Hopefully, the organisation will overcome the false starts and intermural rivalries that have given it a less-than-stellar reputation in the past.
Recently, Mayor Yule suggested that funding for HB Inc be consolidated at the Regional Council, with local Councils terminating their funding contributions and making compensating reductions in their rates. This prudent move would confirm HB Inc’s regional mandate and make funding consistent with the organisation’s administrative home within HBRC.
HB Inc is supervised by a public/private board that includes Mayor Yule, Regional Councillor Kirton, Napier Councillor John Cocking and a few prominent business leaders like Claire Vogtherr (Holly Bacon) and Peter Holley (Mission Estate). This is the group meeting next week.
This governance arrangement, and the public importance of the organization’s work, call into question whether HB Inc should take steps to enhance the transparency of its activities. For example, shouldn’t meetings of this governing board be open to the public? Shouldn’t key strategy and program documents be posted online? Shouldn’t the organisation call occasionally for public submissions on key issues?
Surely there is some workable ground between the extensive formal requirements on elected bodies and the total secrecy of a corporate board that would be conducive to greater public accountability, participation and confidence. HB Inc and its new leaders are determined to show that they now “can do.” A few steps that invited the public in might help both better tap local business and marketing expertise and build a constituency for an organisation that needs and deserves one.
Perhaps this is a topic worth some agenda time next week?