It's been 18 months since Whanganui and Partners, the Whanganui Chamber of Commerce, and Maori business network Te Manu Atatū merged into one location at the Innovation Quarter on Saint Hill St.

Since the doors opened in November 2017, school leavers assistance organisation 100% Sweet also moved into the building.

The site was designed to be a physical place for aspiring entrepreneurs, and for Whanganui's economic agencies to operate more closely.

Whanganui and Partners chief executive Mark Ward said they've done just that.


"It is just natural that people rubbing shoulders get to share information every day, build relationships and trust. I would say the four organisations have reached a new high point of collaboration."

Along the way there's been dozens of workshops, pop-up business schools, and expos that have showcased local businesses, or guided aspiring entrepreneurs by linking them with business mentors.

Te Manu Atatū chairperson Carol Hayward said it's those activities that has truly helped get ideas to the next level.

"Through the PopUp Business School Aotearoa we were able to offer an opportunity to those individuals who have an idea, and help them build a successful story for their potential business," Hayward said.

Mark Ward said the business mentoring side of the Innovation Quarter has grown to be a strong service for the business community.

"It's a one-stop shop where people can be directed to the right person across the four organisations, depending upon their need. The benefits have certainly been in the area of business networking and mentoring for fledgling businesses."

It's common for the organisations to help each other out, with Whanganui and Partners providing support to last year's Chamber of Commerce Regional Business Awards.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Marianne Archibald said the Innovation Quarter, or "IQ", has created a great collaborative environment.


"We supported Te Manu Atatu's business awards two years ago and they supported us last year. Being collocated helps us all understand each other's objectives, makes it easier to connect and ask for or offer assistance and share ideas."

When it comes to what's on the calendar for the rest of the year, Te Manu Atatū's Hayward said she's looking forward to acknowledging local Maori business owners.

"In our immediate future we're working very hard on the Maori Business Awards which takes place in July, from there I think it's about working towards the bigger picture, which is to continue to grow and build our network."

Ward said Whanganui and Partners are currently looking at a major government-funded collaboration in business advice and support, and hopes to make an announcement about it in the coming months.