Firms get help to grow business

By PATRICK O'SULLIVAN


Hawke's Bay's many food-orientated businesses are set to get a boost with the announcement of a food network facilitator by economic development agency Business Hawke's Bay.

Business Hawke's Bay (BHB) business development manager Michaela Vodanovich said the facilitator would build existing capability in food processing and be responsible for the development of companies wishing to grow their business.

"Priority will be given to identifying the businesses requiring this commercialisation support, as well as working with the wider Hawke's Bay Food Cluster Network, which aims to increase the manufacture and marketing of the region's produce," she said.

There would be no duplication of Food Hawke's Bay's role (FHB), she said.

"What we want is to emphasise the skills and services that are already available within the network - this person will act almost like a hub.

"So where FHB can lend their expertise around there own event management and food network etc, they will be there right from the start - it is only enhancing what they are doing."

Food Hawke's Bay general manager Jane Libby said she had been involved with the establishment of the position from the beginning and looked forward to working with the appointee.

"We will work hand in hand with the new position in whatever capacity that will be, we haven't quite decided exactly how that will work yet, but I'm sure we are all going to get good value out of it - it will be a great resource to have," she said.

It is a resource Hawke's Bay has had in the past, Ms Vodanovich said.

There had been a Government-funded facilitator "years ago", but funding was cut and the cluster lost its momentum.

"BHB is all about growth in business, job opportunities and investment.

"We would like to believe we could provide the facilitation to bring those willing parties together. It is not our role to run the cluster but simply to facilitate it, so progress can be made."

The cluster includes Food Hawke's Bay, the Hastings District Council, the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the NZ Food Innovation Network and BHB.

"The facilitator will be critical to the success of this collaborative network.

"If we look at the Government's Economic Growth Plan it sees food exports trebling to about $60 billion by 2025.

"For Hawke's Bay's economy to grow and thrive we must commit to adding value to the food we grow locally and produce more high-quality packaged and processed foods for export."

She said it was crucial that food producers had access to business improvement specialists and capital to invest in research, new product development, plant and equipment, sales and marketing and land intensification.

The role will be supported by BHB's stakeholders including the Regional Business Partner, the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Business Mentors, Work and Income Support, and the Export Certification of Origin service, which includes Free Trade Agreement certification.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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