A well-attended "After Five" meeting in the Tararua Business Hub recently was a platform to show local business people the support available to start up and/or expand their business.

Organised by the Tararua Business Network and Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce, the meeting had four speakers, each explaining their role in supporting business.

Mark Maxwell explained the Tararua Business Network's role is economic development, including visitor and resident attraction, and resident retention. They manage council communications and marketing, internal publications, business and community support and growth.

He highlighted the district promotional activities at events such as the Rural Games held recently in Palmerston North, the Central Districts Field Days and the Covi Motor Home Show, the Tararua Long Term Plan roadshow, and the development of a cycle and walkway strategy as examples.

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Angela Rule, business support administrator for the Tararua Business Network, then explained her role as the first contact for businesses seeking help either to start up or expand.

She explained by listening to business cases and helping to prioritise the next step, supplying the right information and resources for such things as regulatory services and mentor support nearly 200 businesses have been helped in the last years, about five per month.

More than 30 workshops have been organised in that time covering topics like IRD, WorkSafe regulations, strategic management and human relationships, as well as product growing like feijoas and hemp.

Rule can then put businesses in touch with the next step by linking them to the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA).

CEDA's business growth adviser Peter Ellingham said his business growth advisers work with companies in the wider Horizons region to help support and enhance their capabilities through the Regional Business Partner Network (RBPN), which is supported by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) and Callaghan Innovation.

He said from start-ups and SMEs to large scale companies, CEDA's focus is on capability development for businesses, supporting innovation and growth, giving guidance on exporting, as well as development and training opportunities".

Ellingham described the role of Callaghan Innovation while Sarah Gauthier, CEDA economic development manager, outlined the service provided by Business Mentors New Zealand.