Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones will help mark the birth of a new Waikato agency by opening a milestone economic development summit on Thursday.

The summit is the first action of the new Waikato Regional Economic Development Agency (Waikato REDA) which will use the gathering of leaders to determine the major economic initiatives the region must undertake to improve communities' well-being.

Mr Jones will open the two-day summit at Lake Karapiro near Cambridge, delivering an opening address to mark the launch of the new organisation.

"We are thrilled to have the champion of the regions, in the Waikato, launching our long-awaited economic development agency," says Waikato REDA establishment chair, Dallas Fisher.

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The summit, being held over Thursday and Friday, will have 250 of the Waikato region's key leaders, and doubles as the launch of Waikato REDA.

Following the summit, at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre, Waikato REDA will finalise a list of economic development initiatives that will have the greatest impact on the Waikato and its people.

It will then begin working with government and funders around those initiatives.

The agency's high-level objectives are to lift economic performance in the Waikato; attract, retain and grow investment, talent and business across the region; and champion and provide one voice for regional economic and business needs and opportunities (becoming a front door for the region).

Mr Fisher says the summit is the most important regional economic milestone in 20 years and will determine the agency's path for the coming years. The new agency came into being on July 1.