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Business Hub brings advice, support and co-funded initiatives together

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Dale Cowie


“How can we help you?” is the motivating influence behind the establishment of a Business Hub to help grow business in Hawke’s Bay.

Eight organisations providing support to businesses have signed up for the Business Hub and will be moving into a purpose-designed shared premise in what was the former Big Save premise in Ossian Street, Ahuriri.  Construction is already underway and the Business Hub will be open during March.

Business Hawke’s Bay (BHB), the region’s business-led economic development organisation, has taken the lead on this ambitious but “definitely needed” initiative. BHB has worked with organisations such as central government agencies and regional support organisations to be co-located in a ‘go to’ place where business people who want to grow their business or address challenges can find solutions in one central point.

Moving into the Hub with BHB will be Export NZ / Business Central, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE), the Callaghan Innovation and NZTE funded Regional Business Partners, Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce, and The Icehouse.

Napier City Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Hastings District Council will have dedicated workstations for their staff to use as required. There are additional organisations that BHB is still in discussions with who may also be in the Hub when it opens.

Susan White, CEO BHB noted that, “Before The Icehouse set up in Hawke’s Bay in 2013, it conducted market research and the response from local business was pretty clear – they wanted help with a wide range of different management issues and while much of those skills and solutions are available, it wasn’t clear to the business owners who provided what service and how they could engage with them and in what order.

“The Business Hub will bring a host of agencies together to give business easier and smarter use of the resources available to help them grow.”

Robert Darroch, Future Products Group chief executive and member of the BHB board, has championed the project. He believes the Hub could be a first of its kind in New Zealand.

“We see it as a ‘shared office meets the Koru Club lounge’ – it’s not just being co-located, it’s about the interaction and networking that happens when people work openly together.  Having the various agencies together in a purpose-designed space will encourage collaborative problem solving and innovation.”

Mr Darroch said that the McKimms, the owners of the building, had been incredibly supportive. “It’s not your typical project. We’ve been working with Tom McKimm so we can accommodate the specific needs of the various parties while also establishing a collaborative workspace that will provide an environment that, we believe, will resonate with business people in the region. The project is much more than bricks and mortar.”

The Business Hub Incorporated Society is to be established to manage the operational management and will have its own governance board that will include representatives from the participating organisations.  Together with BHB, this governance board will determine which agencies best fit the Hub purpose to be permanent participants, and which are better served by utilising one of a number of ‘hot desks’ available for use when they have meetings arranged with business owners.

“For instance, a representative from  a regional organisation could come in and use a hot desk while they are having a meeting with NZTE and international visitors, or say Council leaders may be based at the Hub for a meeting with agencies to discuss business productivity initiatives,” says Mrs White.

The Hub would also help with interconnectivity outside of Hawke’s Bay, according to Mrs White.  “It’s not just what’s here in Hawke’s Bay but how we connect businesses in the region to people and organisations outside the region. That’s extremely important to regional business growth.”

Read Hawke's Bay Today editorial - Just what business in the Bay needs

Read Hawke's Bay Today article - Hub a postitive start for 2015

Read Hawke's Bay Today article - New hub will be centre for business

At the site of the former Big Save site now being re-developed for the Business Hub are (from left) landlords Ray and Tom McKimm, Terry May contracted by Business Hawke’s Bay to manage the Business Hub project, Susan White (CEO Business Hawke’s Bay), Stuart McLauchlan (Chairman Business Hawke’s Bay), and Hamish Whyte (Board member Business Hawke’s Bay).