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Priority One CEO signs off after 10 years

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Andrew Coker has signed off as chief executive of Priority One signalling the end of a ten-year tenure with the economic development agency.

He started in 2006 in a business development role before taking over the reins two years later.

"When I first started at Priority One in 2006 it was apparent that the region, just as Priority One, had the potential to take off and move from being reliant as an economy on retirement growth, especially from Auckland, to one that was innovation and education led with tertiary opportunities for our young people. We just had to work collectively to achieve them."

Reflecting on his time he said it was hard to pinpoint one highlight because the city had experienced significant growth but said "there's no doubt that the programme of tertiary and research provision, principally through the Bay of Plenty regional partnerships is one of the most exciting opportunities that I have seen emerge in the last ten years".

"It is huge for the region and opportunities are now arising as Iwi move from settlement mode into investment mode - that will provide another step change in our economic development in the future.

"It's been an exciting part of the job...we will become a university city."

The increase in businesses and proposed civic developments were also exciting, he said.

"We've seen a growing recognition of our city centre as the cultural, commercial and civic hub of the region. With the onset of the university precinct, the civic developments and significant private investor interest coming online we will see more and greater transformational change."

Trustpower moving to the CBD was an absolute vote of confidence and "a large number of businesses are following on their heels", he said.

Humbling was how Mr Coker described working with new businesses that had moved into the region.

"They are so committed to their individuals and teams and just seeing the reception here from the business committee and council, in terms of how they put their arms around those businesses is great.

"Tauranga is recognised nationally and increasingly internationally as a region that supports entrepreneurs, that is committed to innovation and is quickly growing as a place for young people to bring their ideas to fruition and achieve their business goals."

In his view Mr Coker said the key to the success of Priority One had been the strong partnerships with the business community and councils. "I've loved my time at Priority One."

"Getting out and meeting our members from large and smaller businesses, has been energising and made me even more passionate about the work we do. There's some incredible people living and working here. It's always been such a privilege."

He also credited his talented team and said "I will miss them, we had some fun times''.

Mr Coker was a co-director of 2+ NZ Limited - a green-tech start-up and said he would be dedicating his time to that and was now a business member of Priority One.

His role was currently being shortlisted, he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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