Rotorua manufacturers are being invited to get together, discuss sector issues and think about where they fit in the future of manufacturing.
ExportNZ Bay of Plenty is hosting a Rotorua manufacturers' forum on Wednesday, with speakers Catherine Beard, executive director of ManufacturingNZ, and Bruce Goldsworthy, manager of the EMA manufacturers' division.
If it proves successful, the forum may become a regular event in the city.
Ms Beard, whose role includes speaking to the Government and stakeholders on behalf of manufacturers, will present the results of a recent report by independent researchers Castalia, 'NZ Manufacturing Sector: Its Dynamics and Competitiveness', compiled on behalf of ManufacturingNZ.
"[The report was] to get a better understanding of how manufacturing in New Zealand is doing, how important it is to the economy and how it's evolving as well ... the new shape of manufacturing," she said. "The results were very positive."
Even before the global financial crisis, manufacturers in New Zealand were "not in that great a shape" but manufacturers had come through that period "robustly", she said.
"Demand is starting to pick up through the country," she said. "All the regions have been in expansion as opposed to constriction for 19 consecutive months."
The report, which will be given to attendees, includes case studies of 15 high performing manufacturers.
Ms Beard said manufacturing in New Zealand was in good shape compared to other countries.
"People get the wrong impression about manufacturing ... there's talk about the so-called 'manufacturing crisis'."
She said manufacturing had higher quality and paying jobs than other sectors and the last thing it needed was students, teachers and parents thinking otherwise.
"We need a pipeline of talent coming through to work in the sector," she said. "Jobs are increasingly more sophisticated, increasingly a white collar industry, increasingly successful manufacturers are producing not just products, but services."
Wellington-based Ms Beard said she was looking forward to meeting those people at the Rotorua forum.
"I really enjoy that part of the job," she said. "It's cool seeing their creativity and innovation."
Mr Goldsworthy said the EMA was conscious of its members in the regions and had been looking at what else it could do for them.
"There was a suggestion there might be some interest in Rotorua manufacturers getting together from time to time," he said. "We're really seeing what sort of interest there might be."
He said 25-30 manufacturers met monthly for a similar forum in Auckland.
"We're trying to get our manufacturers to think ahead and see what people suggest the future of manufacturing might look like and where they might fit in that," he said. "There's a raft of possibilities to help them think beyond the day to day stuff."
ExportNZ Bay of Plenty executive officer Angela Wallace said the forum had been organised in recognition of the role manufacturing played in the region's economy and was for "not just exporters but manufacturers in general".
"We have had registrations from companies that we haven't engaged with before," she said. "It's hit a chord".
Ms Wallace said if the forum gained momentum, they would look at making it a regular event.
Attendance at the forum is free, email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. It is at the BNZ Partners Centre, Amohau St from 10.30am to 12pm on Wednesday, June 4.