08 December 2015

Southland Regional Development Action Team Heads Named

The Southland Times

The leaders of the six action teams to drive the Southland Regional Development Strategy have been named.

They were confirmed at the first meeting of the strategy’s governance group, in Invercargill on Monday.

They are:

  • Vibrant Urban Centres team: Joc O’Donnell, a director of H W Richardson and of the new Bill Richardson Transport World. She was on the steering group for the development of the strategy.
  • Ease of Doing Business team: Steve Ruru, the chief executive of the Southland District Council. He was on both the establishment group and the steering group of the strategy.
  • Welcome to Southland Team: Penny Simmonds, the long-time chief executive of the Southern Institute of Technology. She was on both the establisment group and steering group.
  • Business Extension Team: Peter Gow, a sheep and beef farmer now of Winton, who previously developed an 1100ha property in Blackmount. A former long-standing director of CRT.
  • New Industries and Innovation Team: Mark O’Connor, the chief executive of South Port and chair of the strategy establishment group and a member of the steering group. Assisting him will be Paul Adams, managing director of Southland boatbuilders Stabicraft.
  • Inclusive Communities Team: Anna Stevens, an associate with the law firm Cruickshank Pryde. She grew up in rural Southland and was a member of the steering group.

Governance group chair Tom Campbell said these were vital leadership roles for the engine-room of the strategy.

Each team leader would now select a team and most of these were expected to form before Christmas “so they can get down to work early in the new year”.

The teams’ first work was to be clear about their briefs.

“The spirit of the SoRDS is to do a few important things well, not to try to do everything,” Campbell said.

Each team was to come up with an action plan due the middle of next year. These would be combined into a regional plan which would be the development blueprint for Southland over the short and medium term.

“While the team leaders will primarily be drawing on the knowledge and skills of their teams, it is expected that they will have to cast the net wider for specialist information and assistance,” Campbell said.

“We may well be calling on people in the business and general community to assist and we will be very grateful if they do,” he said.

Communications channels will soon be in place so the public can keep in touch. Team leaders would be pleased to engage with people who had ideas and suggestions.