The Hawke's Bay Business Hub in Ahuriri is a hive of activity and on Wednesday more then 80 business people met to celebrate its first year's successes.

The first of its kind in the country, the purpose-built hub houses 13 business support services with a common goal of making it easy for businesses to get advice, mentoring, information and programme funding.

Lead agency Business Hawke's Bay (BHB) CEO Susan White tabled a report covering 10 themes demonstrating how the Hub was achieving its collective goal of helping businesses reach potential with some projects achieving significant impact such as BHB, the Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce Napier City and Hastings District Councils and Hawke's Bay Tourism working on the Jetstar business attraction project.

The report showed since July 2015 $814,992 of grant funding was issued to 16 companies through the Regional Business Partner research and development programme.


The NZ Food Innovation Network was working with companies to develop R&D strategies and innovation plans for product development projects, dovetailing into Callaghan Innovation funding programmes.

In the area of "internationalisation" the Hub delivered opportunities including a visit from the United States ambassador, five ExportNZ events, two TPPA briefings and three ExportNZ/MFAT roadshows.

NZ Trade and Enterprise ran two workshops for 54 companies called the NZ Story and was working with 13 companies on "significant" co-funded initiatives to assist with capturing international markets.

A China Market Development project, spearheaded by Hastings District Council, saw three more businesses join up and planning was underway for a China e-commerce workshop.

The report cited examples of networking and business-strategy events, programmes and facilitations by Business Hub members including seven member briefings and seminars by the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.

The Chamber of Commerce held 30 networking events including mentoring and popular speed-networking events.

The Icehouse worked with more than 80 businesses with programmes including leadership development, business growth and planning and market validation.

The full $200,000 budget of co-funding support for the Regional Business Partner Capability Development programme was allocated to Hawke's Bay business.

Business Central's health and safety and "soft skill" courses met strong demand, with more than 80 businesses engaging in six health and safety courses, and more than 30 businesses attending five courses covering communication, leadership, and employment topics.

The National Business Review had published a regional investment profile as a resource for international investors, facilitated by BHB, and NZ Trade and Enterprise.

BHB supported the 'courting' of prospective food and beverage investors and held an infant formula conference based on goat and sheep dairy that attracted more than 200 farmer and supply chain network participants. It also facilitated introductions to local business for a technology business looking to relocate from Auckland.

In addition, Frost & Sullivan research into food and beverage global growth opportunities for Hawke's Bay was commissioned by BHB and is proving to be a catalyst for continuing discussion.

Further regional economic development initiatives included a focus on productivity improvement noting the programmes High Performance Work Initiative and Better by Lean.

Three seminars were held between land owners in Wairoa with Hawke's Bay food and beverage processors looking for primary produce, with a follow up progress.

On Wednesday the group was told visitors to the Hub were increasing with May this year recording 725 visitors.

Te Mata Estate Winery sales and marketing director Sally Duncan said an invitation through Business Hub members to meet with the Chinese Seashine Group led to significant sales.

Laser Plumbing and Electrical managing director Paul Manaena said the Hub was "a great place for business owners". Since working with The Icehouse and the Regional Business Partners at the Hub it had significantly improved business performance.

"I've learnt that to be successful you have to surround yourself with people who know what they're doing, and that definitely includes those here," he said.

Ant Williams from St Andrews Limes outlined how expertise and advice from Business Hawke's Bay, The Icehouse, NZ Food Innovation Network was "absolutely instrumental" in helping his business develop.