'Factory' can get Bay booming

By Sam Hurley

Icehouse, a development factory that helps owners and entrepreneurs grow small and medium businesses, is officially opening in Hawke's Bay this Thursday, looking to capitalise on the region's huge potential.

The province will be the first region outside Auckland to house the business growth centre after it was established in 2001, in recognition of the importance of small and medium businesses to the New Zealand economy.

Providing entrepreneurs and business owners with the knowledge, tools and contacts to grow, the business incubator has turned start-ups into established multimillion-dollar enterprises.

Icehouse chief executive Andy Hamilton said a lot of hard work had been put in over the last nine months by Icehouse, Business Hawke's Bay and other regional leaders.

"We saw a great opportunity to help business in Hawke's Bay and people reached out for us to do more.

"The belief is that small and medium businesses are the heartland of the economy in this country."

He said Icehouse promised to work alongside owners and entrepreneurs in the region and help make a strong impact in their lives.

"There is something special about Hawke's Bay being the first region we are opening up in," he said.

Stewart Taylor, managing director of Tomoana Warehousing, a Hawke's Bay food transport and logistics company, joined Icehouse in early 2011, after attending a conference in Hastings.

He was immediately made aware of its owner-management programme.

"They gave me a clearer understanding of company goals, team and strategy, and growing sustainably, which is important for a small business," he said.

After joining the programme, Mr Taylor became hugely ambitious and the guidance given to him from Icehouse helped him direct his company into the strong regional player it is today.

"During the programmes I made a number of strong contacts for the future, he said.

"People with fantastic knowledge and resources who we can exchange our ideas with."

The mentoring assistance that Icehouse provided would be something he would continue to use and Mr Taylor said he encouraged other owners to get involved.

"With Icehouse coming to Hawke's Bay, I will not need to travel up to Auckland for conferences now.

"I will continue to use them to help plan and develop my business opportunities."

Mr Hamilton said Icehouse would monitor the success of its Hawke's Bay adventure, with the aim of creating more jobs and more wealth in the area.

"We are targeting Bay of Plenty and Christchurch next.

"It's all very exciting if you get it right."

Icehouse is now responsible for delivering 1000 of the 3000 firms needed to get the country into the top half of the OECD by 2020.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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