Young guns create business network

By Katie Holland

Within five years, Rotorua X founder Darren McGarvie wants the business networking group to be a real force in the Rotorua economy.

The group, started by and for "Generation X" and "Generation Y" business owners and professionals, has been in operation since 2009 but is in the midst of its biggest change yet - becoming a charitable trust.

That means a more formal structure, including a board of trustees and a stated aim (among others) of having more of a voice within the Rotorua community.

"We get pretty passionate about things but, for whatever reason, lack a forum for expressing those views," said Mr McGarvie, a BNZ managing partner and winner of last year's Rotorua Emerging Young Business Person of the Year.

The idea is that Rotorua X will begin to seek views on issues affecting Rotorua - whether it be the future of the CBD, airport debt, population growth or commercial developments - and make submissions to local and national government.

Another stated goal is to work more closely with other business advisory and non-profit organisations, for the good of the city.

At the moment, he believes, the various groups around the region "don't tend to collaborate as well as they could".

The group's primary purpose however will remain unchanged, that is, providing future leaders, business owners and professionals of Rotorua with inspirational stories, development, education and networking opportunities.

There are about 220 people on the Rotorua X database, most of whom fall within the mid-20s to mid-40s age range and are tertiary qualified. However, there is no strict age range and people are welcome from any industry or level. As Mr McGarvie says, it's a group where cliques are discouraged and everyone's views are welcomed.

Rotorua X will hold its first board meeting on February 20, comprising nine trustees. They will be assigned different roles, to ensure the organisation is self-sustainable and not reliant on any one person. The meeting will be followed by the group's first open monthly event of the year - a talk by Croucher Brewing's Paul Croucher at Brew bar.

Official sponsors have got on board for the first time, many of them local businesses that have supported the group since the beginning by putting on drinks or supplying nibbles for the monthly get-togethers, which are usually held in local pubs and restaurants.

The titanium sponsor for 2013 will be the Employers & Manufacturers Association (EMA), whose consultant Clive Thomson has been attending Rotorua X events for a couple of years.

"It's an energetic and vibrant group," Mr Thomson said, adding the EMA had no hesitation in giving the group financial backing.

"We are very pleased to be able to come on board as a sponsor," he said. "I hope it [Rotorua X] keeps growing, it's a great network."

One of the big Rotorua X events this year will be its charity fashion show in August, following on from the massive success of the inaugural show last year.

And aside from Mr McGarvie's five-year goal of Rotorua X becoming a business force to be reckoned with, there is a more immediate goal - winning this year's Community Organisation of the Year Business Award.

"It's a good goal to strive for ... and would help raise the awareness of Rotorua X."

For more information visit the Rotorua X page on Facebook or email


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