Priority One has brought in former Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason on a six-month contract to help review and retarget its business attraction programme.

"In terms of our overall business attraction programme, The Tauranga Business Case, which we kicked off in 2012, we have brought Max on board to refresh and re-energise our business attraction focus," said Priority One chief executive Andrew Coker.

"In particular, Max has an emphasis on attracting out-of-region businesses into our city centre."

Mr Mason knows Tauranga well. He resigned after a five-year stint as head of the chamber in 2014 to become manager of the Bob Owens Retirement Village, and subsequently left that role last year to complete the gruelling 3500km Appalachian Trail in six months while his wife, Helen, was on a one-year research fellowship in Boston.


He began the six-month contract with Priority One just before Christmas.

"I've been asked to complete a review of the Tauranga Business Case and identify opportunities to refine and refocus the programme," said Mr Mason.

A core focus is leading the development of a targeted city centre attraction campaign aimed at business both inside and outside the Bay.

Key individual target sectors include call centres, English language schools and private training establishments. Also in the frame are distribution centres and importers currently based in Auckland.

"The message to them will be that it can be less expensive and quicker to import their products through Port of Tauranga rather than Ports of Auckland," said Mr Mason.

Mr Coker said that as well as significant national enterprises such as Brother International, which relocated in 2014, businesses were continuing to relocate to Tauranga.

Engineering company South Pacific Industrial opened a new office in Tauranga at the beginning of last year, and was now getting some traction, said managing director Paul Hebberd.

Read more: Tauranga CBD 'like an outdate village'

The company was originally based in Northland, and had added an office in Auckland, but chose Tauranga for further expansion because it saw the area as a growth environment.

"We certainly saw the potential for growth. We chose Tauranga as the best option with good access to the port, plenty of industry and ease of transport out to the region."

South Pacific Industrial - which employs about 250 people across its three offices - opted to build from scratch rather than take over an existing engineering company.

"It's been slower than we would have liked, but we are getting there, are now doing some reasonably sized jobs and we're in the process of recruiting a dozen new staff in Tauranga."

Priority One:

* Tauranga/Western Bay of Plenty's economic development agency.

* Established in 2001 by the business community in partnership with local authorities.

* The first economic development agency in New Zealand to be initiated by the business community.