After learning about the Smart + Connected economic development programme running in Marlborough, Masterton District Council approached Business Lab to design a similar programme for Masterton and the wider Wairarapa. The Council had not been involved heavily in economic development and there were calls for them to do so.

Under the initial name of the Masterton Economic Development Programme, Business Lab worked in partnership with Council to identify, engage and bring together the industry leaders of the region. It was from them that the council wanted to understand what the economic priorities for the region were and how the council, in partnership with industry could address each opportunity.

Carefully selected interviews were carried out leading to a regional economic development summit. Through this engagement three short to medium term priorities were identified:

  • Primary industry – in particular a response to the pea weevil threat
  • Education and the development of a sector strategy
  • Business investment and attraction

Through follow-up forums, active working groups have been established for each area of focus. The council provides administrative support and project coordination assistance to ensure voluntary efforts are maximised.

This programme now runs under the regional banner of Accelerate Wairarapa, a programme name selected by working group forum participants.