Vision20/20; Hawke’s Bay Economic Development Agency; Hawke’s Bay Tourism Trust; Hawke’s Bay Incorporated; and from 1 July this year … VENTURE  HAWKE’S BAY.

No wonder people are confused!

So who are we and what do we do? Hawke’s Bay Incorporated is the Regional Development Agency and our mission is to make Hawke’s Bay the best regional location in which to visit, live, work, invest and grow.

We are a business unit of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and, subject to current public consultation,  will be future funded by that body (replacing funding from Napier, Hastings, Central Hawke’s Bay, and the Regional Councils).  

My hope is that ratepayers (our ultimate funders) will develop a sense of ownership and pride in an organisation that is working hard to provide relevant services to businesses across the region; supporting other agencies within the region and marketing Hawke’s Bay to New Zealand and the world on a daily basis.

Exactly one year ago I was appointed as General Manager of Hawke’s Bay Incorporated. I would like to share with you what we have achieved in that time.

In the past, our organization has been asked to undertake a wide range of tasks, often with no funding, because someone, somewhere (sometimes in Wellington, sometimes in Hawke’s Bay) “thought it was a good idea.”  These tasks were taken on by a staff already stretched and sometimes with no real clarity around what might be the benefits to the Region.

My first task was to review our varied activities and to define exactly what our role is. The most significant change was to refocus the organization to leverage regional growth from three clear platforms:

• Regional promotion and marketing;
• Innovation and productivity; and
• Investment and planning.

New managers have been appointed for each of these areas. People with excellent private sector experience now head up these three teams, supported by new staff with communications expertise.

Here’s how we go about our business:

• We work with the region as a whole, from Wairoa to Central Hawkes Bay;

• We focus on region-wide needs – we are not membership based, so do not have to balance the needs of individual members with genuine regional needs;

• We work with a future-focus and concentrate on the medium to long-term development needs of the Bay;

• We partner – we can’t do everything on our own! We have developed strong working partnerships with groups such as Sports Hawke’s Bay, Food Hawke’s Bay, Hawke’s Bay Wine Country Tourism Association, Maori Tourism Organisation, Creative Hawke’s Bay and the Chamber of Commerce. 

In some cases we contract these groups to undertake management of initiatives for the benefit of the Region. The Sustainable Tourism Project (STAR) is one example of this. Providing services to individual companies in need of immediate business advice to handle the economic impacts is another.

• We act as the access point for Central Government inward funding for the Region. You might be interested to know that we have been able to leverage regional funding of $1.2million with additional Government funding to a total annual funding of $2.8million in 08/09.

We have developed a collaborative working relationship with Auckland University Business School. If we are to effectively help firms and companies in these hard economic times, we need to make sure that we are using tried and true methods to make a difference. Dr Ian Hunter, Director of the University’s Business Case Centre, is working with us to ensure our economic models give us a true picture of what is happening, develop a productivity toolkit, undertake an innovation assessment with key companies across the region, and explore the concept of a Regional Development Fund to help companies grow.

Overall, the last 12 months have been extremely busy ones and it is gratifying to see the organization finally take a strong shape. Our strong base within the Regional Council gives us a degree of funding predictability to ensure we are working with a medium to long-term view in mind. And with the strategic support of the Board under Chairman Neil Kirton, we are now well positioned to influence how the region will grow and develop. We plan to make our mark with confidence, on your behalf, in support of a region we can be proud of.

If you want to talk further, get more details, or just talk over any issues you think we can help with, feel free to contact me, Janet Takarangi at janet@hbinc.co.nz or (06)834 1918.

Hawke’s Bay Inc – Twelve Month Performance

It has been a busy year, but here is a snapshot of some of our key accomplishments for Hawke’s Bay over the last twelve months.

• We were one of only nine regions to tender successfully for funding from the Ministry of Tourism for the Sustainable Tourism Advisor in Region programme (STAR). As a Region, we receive $88,000 from Government and we have matched this with regional funding over three years to work with tourism businesses to become sustainable. Our regional goal is to have 300 operators meeting the STAR criteria by 2011, coinciding with the Rugby World Cup.  Hawke’s Bay Wine Country Tourism Association has been sub-contracted to run this project, which was launched on April 27th at the Opera House.

• We are one of nine regions nationally that has a partnership with TECHNZ, the Government funding agency for Research and Development. Our TECHNZ expert Jenny Brown has been successful in obtaining over $600,000 of inwards investment funds since June 2008. This funding is matched dollar for dollar by Hawke’s Bay companies who will benefit from research and development, ensuring their growth and economic contribution to the Region. There is more to come with some very big and exciting projects in the pipeline.

• We work closely with the Department of Labour on labour market and skills issues. Within the Regional Council, we have developed new economic models that provide us with a clear picture of what is happening across the region and the economy. We have recently published our first report and this will become a regular publication.

• With Food Hawke’s Bay, we have worked to refresh our regional presence at the Auckland and Wellington Food Shows. We have been doing this for the last 7 years on behalf of our region’s food and wine producers. Hawke’s Bay is still the star attraction at the shows. Our success year after year is testament to the strong companies we have in this region who understand the need to collaborate under the regional brand, Hawke’s Bay Wine Country.

• We are the project manager for Hawke’s Bay element of Rugby World Cup 2011. We have secured the services of Peter Mooney – formerly of Art Deco Trust, to work with the Hawke’s Bay Inc team to ensure that the event is well run, that the region achieves maximum benefit for its companies and economy, and that visitors coming to Hawke’s Bay for the Rugby World Cup enjoy a high quality experience. We need to be smart in what we do so that we capitalize upon the Rugby World Cup event for future regional development.

• We manage and maintain the regional website www.hawkesbaynz.com . We are currently redesigning this site to ensure the successful online promotion of Hawke’s Bay as a place to live and work, visit and do business with, to New Zealand and the world.

• HB Inc instigated and is now the contract manager of a $2.6 million project to help the pip fruit industry reposition itself to meet global changes in consumer demand for fruit that have low or nil chemical residues. This is a three year project involving Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Otago – the three regions exporting some 85% of NZ apples in a $360 million per year industry. PipfruitNZ is the industry partner and you can get an update on what is happening at http://www.pipfruitnz.co.nz/Library/Apple_Futures.aspx

Working out of a recession

Hawke’s Bay Inc. has taken a leadership role with other key groups and has developed a regional plan for supporting Hawke’s Bay businesses in these difficult economic times. This plan builds on current government-funded support programs already in Hawke’s Bay such as the mentoring service provided by Napier City Council and the BIZINFO service provided by the Chamber of Commerce. 

Companies needing immediate business advice are directed to the Chamber of Commerce as the co-ordinating agency. The Board of Hawke’s Bay Inc. has made funding available to the Chamber of Commerce in order to assist in the provision of urgent, immediate support.

Our focus is helping companies in the medium to long term recovery, and we have identified three main areas for support through working with companies. Companies need:

• Help to maintain international connections and market relationships. We work collaboratively with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in this area with their network of offices across the globe, offering expertise and networks as well as programmes such as Beachheads.

• Support to maintain staff with essential skills in R&D and design areas, as well as critical technical skills that may have been accrued over time.

• Support to use any downtime in the current environment to refocus on product or process innovation, including productivity improvements.

For more information please visit www.investhawkesbay.co.nz

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