A year on from opening, the Ahuriri Tech Collective development on Bridge St is pumping, pulling in people off the street to eat at the development's cafe, while major tech players working out of there continue to attract multi-million investment to grow internationally.
Hawke's Bay Today reporter Andrew Ashton talks to some of the main players, and finds out that not only is the hub attracting talent from all over New Zealand, but work on developing two more Hawke's Bay tech collectives is "imminent".
Billed as "a new-age watering-hole", the Ahuriri Tech Collective building comprises purpose-built work spaces ranging from extended-lease offices to week-to-week "ot desk" options.
The collective is managed by Wallace Development Company. Businesses of all kinds work side by side.
Telecommunications company and cornerstone tenant NOW was heavily involved in putting forward the vision, working with the building's old owners, engineers and then developers on the how to style the concept.
NOW remains the biggest occupant and chief executive Hamish White said the hub had "delivered on all fronts", attracting interest from around Hawke's Bay and even further afield.
"It's enabled NOW to grow as a business across all our markets and has created a 'destination' from our prospective customers to visit and see what we're all about.
"The energy, relationships and conversations that are created by being in a shared space are hugely valuable; in some ways they start to become a bit of a competitive advantage (compared to the silo created by being in a single-occupied building).
"In terms of attracting talent, it's one of the leading shared work spaces in the country. People who visit love the feeling of our hub, which adds another string to the bow when we're trying to bring some of New Zealand's best talent to the region."
Cloud-based commercial property management software company Re-leased has already doubled its presence in the hub and founder Tom Wallace said the majority of Re-Leased's 50 staff, including software developers, were based there.
Speaking from London, where the company is looking to expand internationally, Wallace said since moving into the hub last year, the company had doubled its staffing level there.
"We made sure we got a big space in advance because we were planning on doing that, so it has been great for us.
"We wanted to create a great environment for our team to work from. We wanted somewhere they would look forward to coming into everyday and we knew if we offered a really modern and fun workplace that we would also be able to recruit the best talent as well, and that is very important to us.
"We've managed to attracted really high-level developers from Auckland, different parts of the Bay, from Wellington and also some other jobs that support developers like QAs and BAs, so it has been a real success for us."
There were a host of benefits to being in the hub.
"There's beers and barbecues in the summer but we also enjoy the prospect of chance encounters with other people in the building from other cool businesses in Hawke's Bay.
"It's great that Hawke's Bay now has a world-class office there, that's right by the seaside, right by the cafes and I think it has really widened the talent pool. I think it is nationally a place where people would want to go to.
"Even five years ago, not many people would be thinking about moving to Hawke's Bay for high-tech jobs but the Tech Hub, with some other initiatives that are going on, are really helping with that. It has been brilliant."
Xero's executive general manager of customer success, Nigel Piper, said the cloud-based accounting software giant was so sold on the concept, it moved into the hub in June 2017, before the hub was totally complete.
"We made the decision a while ago that we felt it was important to have jobs in the regions. We thought it was a really good story to tell and we thought it was really important to get people in Xero away from Auckland and Wellington so we made the decision that we wanted to be in the Bay."
The company had expended from the original 15 staff members to 54 people.
"That's fantastic and 85 per cent of those are new hires and most of them actually come from the Hawke's Bay community, which we're stoked about."
Staffing had started with mostly customer support roles but Piper said other Xero employees had relocated to Ahuriri.
"We've created leadership opportunities, people relocate there. We've had Aucklanders move down there and even some people from Wellington, so it's been fantastic that we have this space where people want to be.
"Certainly, every time I've been there, it just feels like there's a fantastic vibe there with a really collaborative group. We certainly spend time with some of the other groups there. It's been really interesting just in playing a role in the community, that's really been awesome to watch.
"It was really important for Xero that we wanted to be involved in the community."
The hub was now a real community asset, and Xero still had room to grow its numbers in the hub.
"We see it as a really important site. It's just as important as our Auckland and Wellington sites and we'll continue to grow in the Bay. We see it as a great place to attract talent, we've created leadership roles there and obviously the building itself is just such a fantastic asset."
However, the environment also works well for other non-tech-related tenants like travel agent Shelley Jenkins.
"I had an open mind about moving in here, understanding how similar places worked in Auckland. Moving in here with all these technical business, I just felt that what I do is also quite technical work, and I just thought the fit would be right, having those people around me - and it definitely has been."
The tech collective also allowed her to have more control and freedom over how she operated the business.
Although she originally had planned to pull back the number of clients, the reverse had happened, with customers, including fellow tenants, booking trips and detailed itineraries to places as far away as the United States, India and Antarctica, including trips of the Orient Express.
"It's been so positive from a business point of view, making contacts that help you make business decisions has been the prime positive that I have out of it really.
"What I have discovered is that people want to do business with you because they feel special if they come to you and you're working in a different kind of environment."
Wallace Development Company now has plans for another collective hub in Napier's CBD, as well as another on Heretaunga St in Hastings.
Development manager Mike Walker says: "Hastings is imminent we hope and similarly in the CBD, Napier. We have a building we have almost completed documentation, we just need to lodge a building consents and then we'll be under way."
The company finished work on the Ahuriri hub last year but Mike Walker says it is still "tweaking" some aspects.
"We have more to do in terms of furnishings and things, so we're not finished yet. We're constantly trying to improve it.
"It was a concept we've always been looking at, we've seen other collectives working up in Auckland and we wanted to bring some of that to the region and it has been really successful.
"Many of the companies are not tech oriented, we have travel agents and marketing companies. There are a whole raft of different businesses in the building. I think the key thing is it is a contemporary space. What we're trying to do is create something that's not your traditional office.
"The feedback we've had from tenants is they just love coming to work."