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Review signals change in Hawke’s Bay’s economic development landscape

IMG 0066 Sunrise Hut Peter Sim

Hawke’s Bay councils agree transformative change is needed in how the region supports business and industry development, following recommendations from a recent review on Hawke’s Bay’s current approach to economic development

The review was part of Hawke’s Bay’s councils’ legal obligation to periodically review the cost effectiveness and performance of local government funded initiatives, and ensure the ratepayers of Hawke’s Bay receive value for money.  It was recognised that the review could also present opportunities to improve regional coherence and regional impact.

Councils sought to uncover the challenges and opportunities for economic development in Hawke’s Bay; the landscape in which various agencies and mechanisms play a role in the regional economic development system; the efficiency of current arrangements; and the overall effectiveness of the current delivery models of the five councils and key delivery organisations.

The four Mayors of Hawke’s Bay’s district councils, and the Chair of the regional council are now considering the recommendations of the review, which include forming a new Regional Economic Development Agency (EDA) to lead (non-tourism) economic development activities, and the opportunity to co-design and embed a partnership with Māori in the new EDA model.

A progress update from the region’s councils is expected in the first quarter of 2021. 

In the meantime, the Councils acknowledge the proposed decision of Business Hawke’s Bay to wind-down operations.  The request by Business Hawke’s Bay for a significant increase in ratepayer funding ahead of the review and community consultation was not realistic. It is important to understand that Councils are unable to provide additional funds to organisations as and when they need them. There is a formal process to obtain local government funding, and a commitment to additional funding for Business Hawke’s Bay could not be made under the current annual plans. The Councils are, however, committed to ensuring any of the organisation’s business development services that add value, will continue to be offered. 

Alex Walker, Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay says: “In the current climate the delivery of economic development activities is crucial. This review and current developments with Business Hawke’s Bay means we have the opportunity to strengthen how we approach a new model that will add more value.”

Kirsten Wise, Mayor of Napier says: “We undertook this review because we need to have absolute confidence that the investment we’re making into our region’s economic development is the investment that is required. 

Sandra Hazlehurst, Mayor of Hastings says: “We have so many examples of the power of iwi, business and council collective leadership and we know that we are stronger when we work together. This review is our way of continuing to give business and industry the confidence and backing that will ensure continued investment and growth for Hawke’s Bay’s future.”

Craig Little, Mayor of Wairoa says: “The next few months will be critical for us as a region as we fully consider the weight of the recommendations in this review which point strongly towards the creation of a new agency that has the mana, the mandate and the resources to once and for all champion economic development for Hawke’s Bay.  It is also important that we are able to have these conversations with our communities and engage with them as part of our Long Term Plan process, as any additional resourcing from Councils will need to be funded by ratepayers, and our communities will need to give us the appropriate direction for these proposed developments.”

Rex Graham, Chair of Hawke's Bay Regional Council says: “While we are considering the review and the recommendations of this report, we acknowledge that Business Hawke’s Bay are proposing to wind-down operations. We will work positively with Business Hawke’s Bay to help them through this transition and in the new year will consider the report and next steps.”

17 December 2020

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