A million years ago, I remember sitting at the Empire Hotel with the late Neil Roberts who was interviewing me for a job at his production company.
As interviews go, it was pretty informal but I do remember Neil asking me how I would market Huntly if I had to sell it as a place to live.
As an old Hamilton girl, I had always seen Huntly as a town to pass through, never stop at.
Its most distinguishing feature was the DEKA sign at the start of the putative shopping centre. But I had always thought that Huntly could be a very pretty place to live.
Ngaruawahia too, for that matter. Any town that has a river running through the middle of it has much to offer. I pitched the idea of Huntly-sur-Rive to Neil, he laughed and I got the job.
But I still do think that those Waikato River towns could be gorgeous if developed properly.
And the Turner brothers, the men behind the billion-dollar development proposed for Ohinewai think so too.
In the midst of all the Covid-related news this week, it was great to read that resource consent has been granted for the Comfort Group's foam factory at Ohinewai under the Government's fast-track consenting process.
The foam factory is the first stage of The Sleepyhead Estate – a $1.2 billion, 178-hectare manufacturing hub and residential community.
It's estimated that the estate will generate more than 1500 new jobs in the region and the company is building 1100 new homes for the workers.
It's a modern version of the Victorian era company town, communities built by businesses.
Bourneville near Birmingham in the UK was established by the Cadbury brothers.
They chose the site to develop their factory so they could offer their workers improved living conditions in a country environment the workers and their families could enjoy. The brothers also established sports facilities and cultural clubs for their employees.
Corning, a town in New York, was revitalised in the mid 20th century when the glassware company poured millions of dollars into housing, sports facilities and a new library.
It's still going strong today and most of the town's residents are employed at the Corning company. Company towns weren't all benevolent bosses and pretty cottages on lush pastures – some of them were pretty grim.
But given the Turner brothers seem to be decent chaps – I've never met them, I should point out; I've only read their profiles in newspaper stories – it seems like a win-win for the business and its employees and an absolute boon to a region that has been doing it tough for a while.
I found it incomprehensible that the Waikato Regional Council would oppose the development.
Russ Rimmington, the chair of the council, said it would undermine Huntly and "bugger up" green pastures, but the people who actually live in Huntly beg to differ.
As one of the community board members said, if these people want to bring a billion dollars to the region, bring along their people, build new houses and provide educational opportunities, why on earth would you turn that down? Quite.
Building is expected to start on the factory in April next year, with the factory operational by 2023. Good on the Turner brothers - and good on the Government.
It was the Expert Consulting Panel that approved this development.
And the ECP was set up under the fast-track consenting process established by the Government, so that projects that can boost employment and generate economic recovery can bypass the costly and time consuming red tape involved in the consenting process.
As the country stagnates under another lockdown, we're going to need plenty more initiatives like the ECP from the Government so that businesses can get on with rebuilding this country's economy.