ECT Chief Focuses on Positive Future

DATE 28 September 2017     AUTHOR Andrew Ashton


A MONTH into his new role, Eastland Community Trust chief executive Gavin Murphy says his priorities are clear: project execution, jobs, relationships and community alignment.

For now, “jobs” mean embedding existing projects like ECT’s involvement with the Prime Sawmill wood cluster.

“The job creation potential of a wood cluster is well understood and the project is progressing positively," he said.

“There are many irons in the fire so it’s an exciting time to add value to that project.

“Our priority has been, and must remain to be, supporting the growth of existing businesses.

“To do that, we must develop and attract great talent. There’s absolutely no point being involved in economic development if we can’t find talent, including youth, who want to live here and who have the motivation to take up exciting work opportunities."

Following the release earlier this year of two economic development action plans for the regional and Maori economies here, Activate Tairawhiti and ECT featured heavily.

That was why alignment between ECT and Activate Tairawhiti was a critical first step to success.

“As far as the regional action plans are concerned, the priority work streams have been around developing good processes for considering new projects that fit within the plans, and being efficient about executing them.

“That will include refreshing Activate Tairawhiti’s Economic Development Workplan to more closely align with both regional plans.

“The existing work on the wood cluster is an example of good progress being made on those existing priorities. And our focus remains on closing out existing projects (like the wood processing cluster and Commerce Place) well so that we can maximise the GDP and job creation potential of those.”

Progress through co-operation

However, he pointed out that real progress would only come if there was more co-operation within the community.

“The organisation is well-staffed and equipped to deliver on community aspirations, but the simple fact of the matter is that we can’t, and frankly shouldn’t, do everything on our own.

“There are others that also have an ability and responsibility to contribute: other community funders, Gisborne District Council, central government and iwi among them.

“It is critical is that we are working together toward a common purpose and that there are no gaps or overlaps in our programmes. ECT has been working toward that for some time and I see the CEO’s role as an opportunity to embed that further.”

Following the amalgamation of ECT and Activate Tairawhiti, the trust was now also responsible for the “recapitalisation” of regional tourism in the region in order to benefit the community and local business.

“Alignment” would again be the key, with the Navigations project as a case in point.

“There is a need to align the region’s infrastructure with the regional marketing campaign and with the wider tourism market by engaging all the stakeholders and moving their individual projects forward.

“ECT is funding a number of initiatives across several stakeholders and we can see the need to align the projects.

“Those alignments will make it much easier for all organisations to deliver a project with a long-term legacy.”