ECT to absorb Activate Tairawhiti

DATE 6 May 2017     AUTHOR Gisborne Herald


EASTLAND Community Trust will absorb the full functions of the regional economic development agency, Activate Tairawhti.

It has also started the search for a chief executive to manage the job of tackling the region’s economic development challenges, while continuing the trust’s work supporting the wider community.

Earlier this year the Government launched the Tairawhiti Economic Development Action Plan aimed at attracting $68.6m in capital investment, increasing regional gross domestic product and creating 1220 new jobs.

A great deal of the actions included in that plan called for either ECT or Activate Tairawhiti to take the lead.

ECT chairman Michael Muir said it made sense to have someone who could lead the entire economic development platform throughout the region.

ECT and Activate Tairawhiti had been working in close alignment since the economic development agency was established in 2014.

Making sure action plan implemented

Absorbing the functions of Activate Tairawhiti into ECT would make sure the action plan was implemented. It would also provide a more streamlined structure to deliver ECT’s increased activities.

“We have also agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Gisborne District Council to deliver economic development actions and tourism and marketing functions on behalf of the council,” Mr Muir said.

“It’s a big job. This will be one of the region’s most important leadership roles.”

Activate Tairawhiti will still have access to government contracts and provide business development services.

“Those things that AT are doing will be continued.”

Activate Tairawhiti is jointly-funded by the ECT and the council, and Mr Muir said GDC would remain a major partner.

The search for a chief executive to lead the “blended” ECT and Activate Tairawhiti economic development teams will not effect negotiations to merge Activate Tairawhiti and Tourism Eastland.

The existing separate AT advisory board, consisting of businesspeople, would continue.

Activate Tairawhiti chairman John Rae said the changes meant Activate Tairawhiti would have just one “master” to report to and would be beneficial for all parties.

“Many of the projects developed and promoted by AT have required additional ECT funding," Mr Rae said.

“Now is the time to make commitments regarding the future of Activate Tairawhiti and the trust’s involvement.”

GDC chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann confirmed the council’s commitment to funding the agency and confirmed that ECT and the council would revise their memorandum of understanding together to reflect the new arrangements.

“While some of the detail is still to be worked through, it makes good sense to be joined up and connected for best economic development outcomes for the region,” Ms Thatcher Swann said.

Gisborne deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz said the council was very supportive of the change.

“ECT has the capital and the mandate to support and enable economic development in the region. Working together to deliver this is key to the region’s success,” she said.