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January news update

Kia ora and Happy New Year – I trust you had a happy and relaxing festive season.

As we embark on 2019, we will be making some changes to our approach to regional development – including a reset of the Bay of Connections framework and the core focus areas for the wider Bay of Plenty region.

As you may be aware, the independent review of Bay of Connections (BOC) was completed last year. The purpose was to ensure that the focus and support provided by a regional economic approach was relevant and adding value to the wider Bay of Plenty.

After 10 years of activity it was timely for such a review, and significant developments with Central Government regional development policies have also necessitated some changes. The $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund has created important opportunities for the Bay of Plenty region, and it’s critical that our regional growth framework is best suited to support the region in their efforts.

Review Outcomes
The review involved interviews, discussions and workshops with more than 200 Bay of Connections stakeholders, industry representatives, local government officials and Mayors across the wider Bay of Plenty region, as well as with key central government officials from Wellington and Auckland.
The key outcomes of the review include:

• Stakeholders continue to value the connections and partnerships provided by BOC
• The BOC’s relevance (in its existing form) has lessened due to significant changes in the operating environment
• There has been immense value in a “go to” framework for Government to engage with the region in the past
• The new PGF provides the mechanism for local regions to engage directly with central government

Regional Development Reset

As a result of the review outcomes – and the changes in the operating environment – the BOC Governance Group and BOPRC have decided to “reset” our regional economic development approach and focus, to ensure real benefit for the region, its communities and its people.

This will mean the dis-establishment of the existing BOC framework, and the development of a new model, new set of focus areas and a new regional leadership group. This will draw on insights, input and expertise from business, industry, community (including Councils) and Māori leaders.

The reset approach will also allow for a stronger focus on Māori development, recognising the significance of iwi to the regional economy.

Importantly, the new model and focus areas will be closely aligned to local/sub-regional priorities and action plans, where there is regional benefit. This will ensure a regional overview around key challenges and opportunities, ie. infrastructure, as well as providing support to local regions to help achieve their specific goals and objectives.
It is already very clear – from the review and subsequent discussions – that collaboration and partnerships will continue to be a priority for our regional development approach.

Overall, the goal is to support and ensure the sustainable growth of the wider Bay of Plenty region, to make a meaningful difference to its people and communities.

Next Steps

Stakeholder feedback during the BOC review was critical and insightful, and we will again be seeking input from business and community leaders across the region as we work towards developing the new regional development approach and priorities.

To progress this, a small working group has been established and has completed some initial thinking. Members of this group will be engaging with stakeholders across the region shortly to test some of the early thinking, gain input and develop a “strawman” regional approach for further discussion.

Existing Strategy Groups

Due to the various changes in the operating environment, some of our sector strategy groups have been paused for the past few months. This will continue while we progress the reset approach. However, two of our groups are business as usual – Freight Logistics and Aquaculture. These two groups will continue to focus on priority activities, and will link in with the new framework as it develops.

BOPRC Support

BOPRC has funded BOC through its Long Term Plan for the past 10 years, along with some initial seed funding from NZTE and contributions from Central Government to support specific projects – particularly in recent years.

BOPRC will continue to support and resource the reset approach to regional development – predominately through our internal team, as well as by providing specialist expertise as required.

Team Changes

The reset approach to regional development coincides with some internal changes at BOPRC.

It is with immense regret that I announce the resignation of Cheryl Lewis – Bay of Connections Portfolio Manager.

Cheryl-Lewis

Cheryl has successfully led the development and delivery of Bay of Connections since 2008. Key highlights include the development of the regional development framework and sector strategies, the Regional Growth study, and the numerous relationships and projects with central government, industry and key stakeholders.

For the past two years, Cheryl has been developing her own small, family-based business - No3 skin care and deodorant. No3 has grown significantly in recent months and the time has come for her to solely focus on this – and spend more time with her family.

We fully support Cheryl’s decision, but she will be sorely missed – she has made a significant contribution. Her final day at BOPRC is Wednesday 23 January. Recruitment for a replacement will commence shortly.

Over the past six months, a great deal of work and consideration has gone into the BOC review and a reset of our regional economic development approach – and we are about to see some significant changes.

I would like to acknowledge everyone who has been involved to date – and thank you in advance for your future contribution. It is valued and welcomed.

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The working group team will start providing regular updates on the progress of the new regional approach. If you have any questions or comments at this time, please email info@bayofconnections.com and we will direct them to the appropriate member of the team.

In the meantime, Jackie Healey (BOPRC) and Jacky James will continue to be the key contacts.

Ngā mihi

Doug Leeder
Chair, Bay of Connections Governance Group

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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