The Eastern Bay of Plenty is looking to make the most of the Provincial Growth Fund and new economic opportunities with the appointment of two well-known locals to a new position to drive regional development.
Last year, the Eastern Bay Councils formed the Regional Growth Leadership Group (RGLG), under the leadership of Kiritapu Allen MP and Sir Michael Cullen, to bring together a diverse range of projects across the Eastern Bay of Plenty. The group brought together a comprehensive report detailing the significant benefits that planned projects would bring to the region, and illustrating the interdependencies and cross-benefits of approaching the projects as a whole.
That Report was presented to government Ministers in August 2018 and specific funding was sought from the Provincial Growth Fund to progress work in that area. In December 2018, Minister Jones announced the approval of $237,000 to manage, report and drive Regional Development Project implementation.
Following a robust recruitment process earlier this year, Ian Morton and Karl Gradon have been jointly appointed to the new role.
Ōpōtiki District Council Chief Executive, Aileen Lawrie, spoke on behalf of the RGLG saying that the collaborative approach had paid off for the Eastern Bay and was pleased to be able to appoint two excellent contractors to the co-ordination role.
"Karl is best-known in the Bay of Plenty for his work as the CEO of NZ Mānuka and as the current President of the EBOP Chamber of Commerce, but he also has extensive international experience in other food and dairy industries. Ian Morton has many years' experience working in local government and has been part of the drive for sustainable economic development in the Eastern Bay of Plenty through his roles at the Regional Council. Both know the eastern Bay of Plenty incredibly well and the RGLG looks forward to working closely with them over the coming months.
"Through their interview process, they presented a comprehensive plan of attack and so we expect that they are as pleased to hit the ground running as we are," Ms Lawrie said.
A significant aspect of the role will be to ensure that the eastern Bay of Plenty maximises funding opportunities, particularly through the Provincial Growth Fund, and ensuring that the different projects are kept in step and meet funding requirements.
"This is the next significant step for the eastern Bay. We have several projects already in train and funded to varying levels – Ōpōtiki's Harbour entrance, the mussel farming production facility, Kawerau Putauaki Industrial Development (KPID) commercial manufacturing cluster, Whakatāne's tourism and wharf development, kiwifruit and other horticulture irrigation clusters on Māori land, and digital connectivity in the eastern Bay. Each of these already has committed funding or business cases underway and together they offer thousands of new jobs and associated economic benefits. Karl and Ian will be the boots on the ground, ensuring that we maintain momentum and maximise the opportunities and the benefits these projects bring to our communities," Ms Lawrie said.