• Business Hawke's Bay folds: Region's five councils committed to supporting organisation through transition

Business Hawke's Bay folds: Region's five councils committed to supporting organisation through transition

The board of Business Hawke’s Bay (BHB) has announced it will wind up the organisation, following an unsuccessful bid to secure sustainable funding.

Chairman Stu McLauchlan says the decision to close BHB’s doors was a "tough one". 

“The board has wrestled with this decision, as BHB has made a genuine and significant contribution to Hawke’s Bay over the past decade, delivering much-needed services to the region’s business community and the wider economic development eco-system.

“We are disappointed that we won’t be playing a part in the future economic development of our region and we’re sorry for the impact this decision will have on our people, who have given their all, and put up with considerable uncertainty for a long time now.”

BHB currently employs a team of six, three involved in management and activation of the Hawke’s Bay Business Hubs, two managing projects and sector programmes, and the Chief Executive. A number of contractors would also be affected.

The board will now work collaboratively with Councils to try and preserve as much value and IP from BHB’s activities as possible; including its people and securing the future of the two Business Hubs, as well as BHB programmes serving start-ups, the food and fibre and hi-tech sectors, along with regional talent attraction and retention.

Mr McLauchlan said discussions with Councils will commence shortly. 

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Councils and explore redeployment opportunities to ensure that BHB’s good work survives into the future and can be of value to the business community by transitioning to a new fully-funded regional economic development agency.

“That’s our focus. We are looking forward to the establishment of a new regional economic development agency with sufficient money, mana and mandate to serve the businesses of Hawke’s Bay, and the wider community,” says Mr McLauchlan.

The date of the wind up will be determined as part of the transition arrangements to be negotiated with the Councils.

The leaders of the region’s five councils have acknowledged BHB's decision to wind up its operations and thanked the organisation for the valuable work it has done.

They say they’re heartened to hear from BHB that it’s committed to working constructively with the councils to enable its activities like the Business Hubs, programmes of work and people to transition to a new regional development organisation when it’s established.

The leaders say they appreciate that this is a difficult and uncertain time and want to reiterate the councils’ commitment to keep the Business Hubs open and operational.

The councils expect to begin conversations with BHB about the transition process in the next few days and will share more detail as this progresses.

Matariki, which is the Hawke’s Bay regional development strategy and partnership across central & local government, iwi & hapū and the private sector is also acknowledging the hard work the staff at BHB have done, working to grow the business community.

Matariki Governance Group co-chair, Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker said: "BHB has been one of our important partners in the inception, development and success of our Matariki economic strategy. But now it's time for the next step in the evolution of our highly collaborative approach to economic development." 

Co-chair Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa chairman, Leon Symes said: “Matariki has successfully built partnerships and collaboration in Hawke’s Bay and now is the time to advance this into a co-designed agency, to drive socially inclusive economic success for all."

Over the past three weeks, all five councils have formally received the report on local government investment in business and industry support across the region. They have agreed to further investigation and refinement of how to build a new regional economic development agency and transition plan, which will be co-designed with Matariki partners, industry and other regional stakeholders.