A university problem solving project will see EPIC Te Puke gain some valuable information and suggestions.
Rose-Anna Feist was previously involved in Focus Te Puke and is also a past owner of Te Puke Stihl Shop.
Earlier this year, as a project tied to her Otago University Master of Business Administration studies, she carried out two surveys - one of residents, the other targeting businesses.
The responses form part of a larger report that will ultimately be presented to academic staff and to EPIC Te Puke.
Next week she will highlight some of her findings at a Business After 5 meeting.
''There are a lot of things happening in the world, particularly around retail. One of the key things is that people are going more local, so that's an opportunity for the town,'' she says.
''People want more experience-based town centres, so they are there for the experience, not necessarily for the shopping, and digital has obviously had a huge impact. But rather than try and work against that, you can work with it by enhancing people's visit to your town using digital technology.
''The other thing people still want is that human connection. There might be more people working from home, but they want a connection so that's where your co-working spaces and community spaces come into play.''
Rose-Anna says the surveys revealed that from a residents' perspective, Te Puke is seen as a ''convenience, run-my-errands sort of service centre town''.
''There were no complaints about customer service, people like [the town centre] and there's a strong sense of community. It rated quite well in terms of a good vibe.''
Business owners were asked what they like, what they wish for and what they wonder about.
''There were some clear themes coming out - they like the fact that there's easy parking and things like that, but they wondered why locals aren't shopping local.''
Rose-Anna hopes the report will help EPIC Te Puke create a strategic plan for its future work.
EPIC Te Puke marketing manager Rebecca Larsen says she was fascinated to hear about the work of other similar organisations.
''It's been very interesting looking at the different approaches. A lot of us have similar events and it's good to see we have got some similarities and also that the challenges we face are similar across the board, and around the world.''
She says she hopes the final report will help locals understand the role of EPIC Te Puke and help set a strategy for the future.
Rebecca says the town has bounced back reasonably well since the Covid-19 lockdown.
''We are right back into events and looking at how we promote local businesses. Now we need to get more support and awareness of the organisation, because we are working hard.''
The BA5 event is on December 9 at The Daily Cafe, starting at 5.15pm. Anyone wanting to attend is asked to RSVP to email@example.com.