The rural sector needs to see value for the money it puts towards Whanganui & Partners, David Matthews says.
Whanganui Rural Community Board's chair told a recent Whanganui District Council meeting that farmers contributed to 7 per cent of the economic development rate but "so far today I don't believe we've had bang for bucks".
"I've got my doubts about this - whether Whanganui & Partners can come up with something for us as farmers," he said.
"It's all very well having the British High Commissioner here and say how much they love our beef and lamb.
"But they've got to get more for my beef and lamb than what (Hastings Rural Community Board chair) Peter Kay can get for his in Hastings.
"There's that much technology that is coming out all the time, that is making farming easier and more efficient. To me Whanganui & Partners have got to pull a rabbit out of a hat here."
Councillor Helen Craig said the district's economic development agency needed to be given time but it was something council should be keeping an eye on.
"I think that they have been struggling with the rural sector and how to corral that and how to make a difference," she said.
"I think it's something we should be watching. It is a specialised area. How that is managed successfully and how we put enough resource into it specifically in that area and see an outcome - I think that's the challenge."
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said two businesses that council and Whanganui & Partners had been in discussions with were rural businesses.
"So perhaps the value is yet to be seen."
In the same meeting Whanganui & Partners general manager Philippa Ivory updated councillors on its recent activity, just days before she resigned after just seven months in the job.
It had bought research company to talk minimum of 500 businesses "to find out what their challenges might be".
"We're looking at succession planning, we're looking at hiring challenges and generally what Whanganui & Partners can do as an economic development agency can to assist," she said.
"There's a lot of anecdotal evidence about business being shut because children or grandchildren don't want to take over what the parents have built. We want to make sure that's true and if it is we want to help them."
Ivory told councillors its new website would be launched at the organisation's public forum on Tuesday but this didn't happen and by that time Ivory had resigned.
Whanganui & Partners board chairman Myles Fothergill said there were other things being worked on but "a lot of these things are covered by confidentiality agreements".
"There is other stuff, tangible rocks, that we can hopefully get over the line."
McDouall agreed and said while there had been a lull for 18 months there was renewed interest in businesses setting up in Whanganui.
"I would love to tell everybody but the commercial sensitivity and the desire of other councils to try and attract those businesses to their place means that we need to keep a lid on some things," he said.
"Let's hope we keep landing a few."
Ivory has already left Whanganui & Partners after it was "mutually agreed" she could bring forward her leaving date.
Council's general infrastructure manager Mark Hughes will be acting manager.