The Horowhenua New Zealand Trust has made its first property purchase and has just received resource consent for stage 1 for its business park planned on the corner of Roe Street and Cambridge Street in Levin.
Company director Shanon Grainger said they are very close to signing a deal with a major tenant for the building. It's a national business looking to relocate from Wellington.
"They are in discussion with architects about their needs," he said.
He is hoping the first sod for that part of the project will be turned in a few months' time.
"It is a great piece of land, a blank canvas really," said trustee Antony Young.
"We are talking to businesses outside Horowhenua to bring them in as tenants. It is zoned as industrial and we put in a very competitive bid for the property after completing a feasibility study."
The Trust raised capital privately to make the purchase and paid $200,000 above the QV for the land, previously owned by the Horowhenua District Council and was unused, costing ratepayers money.
"We want to add value and make Horowhenua more attractive to business. Any profit we would eventually make will be invested in Horowhenua, but that is some time away. There is plenty of potential here to make assets contribute to the community," said Young.
The Trust is already helping Pathways Horowhenua achieve its goal of creating jobs for young people and wants to support other projects that have a social impact on the area, has started the Build Our Road campaign to push for action on the expressway and said it would love to work with young people on mental health issues.
The Trust provides economic development services to the council, hosts the monthly BA5 business meetings and researches and provides economic data, tracking local development, information that is publicly available.
The Horowhenua New Zealand Trust and its commercial arm, The Horowhenua Company, are independent entities and have no connection with the local council.
The trust currently has five trustees: Evan Kroll, Ron Turk, Cam Lewis, Antony Young, Larry Ellison and they are looking for more trustees to join them.
"We are local business people who want to give back to our community," said Young.
"We can help create jobs and grow the town, keeping our young people from leaving if businesses come in from outside providing jobs, including many highly skilled jobs.
"Our independence means we are free to take on financial risk without the concerns that, should it go badly, that the ratepayers will have to make up the difference.
"As business people we have contacts around the country and commercial entities prefer to work outside of any government structures and they like to work quickly," Young said.
One of the trustees has connections with the tenant they are currently negotiating with.
Horowhenua NZ Trust wants to help reduce barriers to skills and education, support jobs and vocational pathways, promote housing opportunities, create shared places that connect people, improve access to transport networks and digital connections, and support enterprise and asset growth.
For more information on the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust: www.hnzt.org