The regional economic development activity provides leadership, facilitation and support across the region for economic development.

This activity's focus is our economic strategy, Bay of Connections. We work with Māori, industry, local and Central Government and other key stakeholders across the region and the country to implement the portfolio of sector strategies, including the Regional Growth Programme in partnership with Central Government.

There are currently 13 key industry areas, including Aquaculture, Rugby Sevens, Māori Economic Development, Energy, Forestry and Wood Processing, Freight Logistics, and we work with additional industry sectors as the need arises.

Council is working with a number of public and private partners to continue to grow the region's economy in a sustainable way that is prosperous for current and future generations.

Strategy and action plan

The Bay of Connections sets out the goals and priorities for sustainable economic growth in the Bay of Plenty region. The Bay of Connections website has more information about the Bay of Plenty's economic development strategy.

As a regional council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council has always made a significant contribution to the economic development of the Bay of Plenty through environmental and infrastructure management.  The Local Government Act 2002 (LGA 2002) enabled us to re-assess our role in promoting the regional community outcomes.  As a regional authority, the LGA 2002 gives us the opportunity to research and analyse economic issues from a regional perspective as we can look at Bay of Plenty-wide issues where no other organisation is mandated to do so.

Since our first Long Term Plan in 2004, we have had many public submissions supporting our involvement in regional economic development.  Council has been involved in funding, preparing and implementing the eastern Bay of Plenty partnership, western Bay of Plenty's SmartEconomy strategy and Rotorua's Bright Economy strategy.

Central Government has changed the way it supports local economic development initiatives from July 2006.  Its aim is to have more internationally competitive businesses within the regions.  In order to achieve this goal Government wants regions like the Bay of Plenty, that have three separate strategies within the region, to work together instead of individually. 

The changes are designed to encourage the region to exploit the critical mass available from region-wide collaboration to undertake larger projects that will result in greater impacts on the region's economy, and also be nationally significant.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council led the COBoP (Community Outcomes Bay of Plenty) partnership to analyse the region's economic status and determine the benefit to the region of having a region-wide economic strategy.  Business Economic Research Ltd (BERL) was commissioned by Bay of Plenty Regional Council to do a situational analysis of the Bay of Plenty in June 2007. 

Key findings are that while each of the sub-regions has unique economic development issues there are significant similarities, linkages and opportunities that extend across sub-regions.  The report identified that a wider collaborative approach is the best way to attend to these issues and exploit these opportunities.