Business Leaders

Hastings – on centre stage – Pro Q&A with Sandra Hazlehurst – mayor of Hastings

Sandra has a long history of involvement in the CBD. Her family owned a bakery – Warrens Bakery for many years and she also owned a fruit shop in the 90s, while she and husband Mark own buildings in Warren Street. She was also the president of the Hastings Business Association prior to being elected a councillor in 2010. In that role she was instrumental in ensuring that Large Format Retail was located near the CBD, so as to minimise the impact on local retailers.

As mayor Sandra has also strongly pushed for a hotel for Hastings, which will now be realised with Quest establishing a 44 room hotel near Toitoi, the $40 million arts and culture precinct. The final stage of Toitoi, the Municipal Building is set for completion in 2022, which will be a mix of retail and hospitality on the ground floor and the re-opening of the Assembly Hall. On top of all of this is the CBD revitalisation project and investment by private investors into commercial complexes such as The Tribune.

What are the big projects that council will complete and/or commence in 2021 that will have a positive impact on the economy?

2021 is a year to deliver on our community’s priorities; completing our safe drinking water infrastructure, new housing, revitalising the CBD and managing future growth.

This year will see significant projects for safeguarding our drinking water including the construction of Waiaroha (the water storage and education centre), the Frimley water storage and treatment facility and the completion of seven of our small community’s water infrastructure installations. Major growth infrastructure projects will continue for our roads, cycleways, footpaths and significant housing milestones are approaching such as the start of our Hastings Medium Term Housing Strategy with our partners, government and iwi and Hastings’ first spatial plan.

Other community assets will also commence, including the redevelopment of the Municipal Building, Foodeast (Food Innovation Hub) and the new Quest Hotel.

Hastings is surrounded by highly productive land which forms the backbone of our food producing economy. To manage future growth for the Hastings District, the Spatial Plan will help us understand and use the right land for the right purpose with the right infrastructure investment while protecting our fertile soils.

Hastings is regarded as the engine room of the economy? What’s council’s role in keeping the engine running?

Hastings District Council spends approximately $100m annually to deliver infrastructure, facilities and services for our communities.

Council has changed the way we can influence the wellbeing of our people, through their quality of life, and our economy. In undertaking procurement, Council has the ability to deliver additional benefits to the community and meet other strategic objectives through its supply chain. For example reducing unemployment rates, enhancing the skills of the local workforce, or enabling the growth of local markets or suppliers.

Through our new Procurement Strategy, Hastings District Council can support wider social, economic, cultural and environmental outcomes that go beyond the immediate purchase of goods and services. Part of this strategy means Council is committed to lifting Māori economic and social well-being and recognising Māori cultural values and perspectives.

To keep our economy moving, we need a skilled workforce. Through Jobs for Heretaunga, we are connecting employers and young people. This enables our young people to train and upskill so they can confidently enter the workforce through new career pathways.

HDC also has a significant role working with and supporting industries with their challenges. We played a really active role in helping the horticulture and viticulture sectors with their labour supply issues, lobbied the government and developed a seasonal labour plan to overcome these challenges.

Managing our housing crisis through our new place-based housing strategy and working with iwi, central government and developers is also important and will deliver new homes to our people.

What is council’s investment into the delivery of economic development?

Hastings District Council is a leader in Great Things Grow Here for the region.We are working with Business Hawke’s Bay, who provide key business support services for our business community. HDC has developed a Big City business attraction campaign, which includes a video series which key stakeholder businesses will be able to use as part of attracting talent and new business to Hastings.

As a shareholder of the Hawke’s Bay Airport, we have proactively supported through the challenges they’ve faced through COVID-19. Ultimately everything we do for economic development is for the wellbeing of our people – it is to create jobs.

Hastings’ economy is built on the backbone of the primary sector – agriculture, viticulture, horticulture but there’s also technology based businesses establishing in Hastings, do you see any particular technology businesses that will be more attracted to Hastings eg food related?

Hastings is the food and wine capital of Hawke’s Bay and we produce food that is exported around the world. Within these industries we are seeing innovation in many areas such as

  • Agritech and scientific development businesses in the & Hort and food processing sector
  • Robotics
  • Automation
  • Waste stream utilisation
  • Plant based production
  • Environmentally sustainable production and packaging

Our businesses in Hastings have some really dynamic ideas. New tech businesses are investing in Hastings which will develop and create a strong labour supply and an abundance of creative thinkers.

Government and council are backing a regional Food hub in Hastings, what would you like to see as the success stories that could come from this?

Foodeast brings smart thinkers and innovative companies together under one roof, creating a powerful connectivity that sparks new ideas with breakthrough technology.

The collaboration between businesses, research agencies and international opportunities ultimately creates jobs and GDP for the region.

Construction of a hotel is underway in the CBD, this is a major confidence boost for the CBD. It’s been something that you have championed since you were first elected as a councillor, why is it so important for Hastings to have a hotel?

A new hotel will increase economic activity and attract visitors to Hastings to enjoy our tourism, hospitality and business offerings. With our Opera House, Municipal Building and Plaza redevelopment we will become a national leader for

conferencing, entertainment, culture and the arts. A hotel will provide essential accommodation near the heart of this precinct for our visitors. The Hotel will also support council’s vision to have people living in the city and attract new inner city living options.

With future plans to revitalise the CBD this will all bring more activity and people to the city centre, making it a cohesive, dynamic environment to socialise and do business.

The Eastside is under a major redevelopment and at the heart of it is Toitoi and the range of venue offerings within. The last part of the jigsaw puzzle is the Municipal Building, which will also have commercial tenants. What type of businesses would you like to see in the facility?

The Municipal Building is the last piece of the Toitoi puzzle, so we’re hunting out like-minded potential tenants for the ground floor of this remarkable heritage space. We want people and businesses who will infuse this space with creativity

and passion to add to the already popular and dynamic hospitality businesses in the area.

There is a positive outlook on the Hastings economy – perhaps for the next 3-5 years. How do you think we can make this last longer?

Hastings is a great place to do business and we are proactively attracting new business to the District and supporting existing businesses. We are managing growth well, through an efficient, effective maintained infrastructure programme. We have land available for development, a secure water supply and fertile growing soils. We are investing

in public amenities to create a beautiful place to live and we know government has confidence in council to deliver for our community. With our partners we are growing a skilled workforce.

If you would to look out to 2050, what do you think Hastings will be famous/highly regarded for?

  • Hastings is a world leader in food and wine production and innovation
  • Example of a city that has reinvigorated
  • Every person has a house to call home
  • Our inclusiveness and valued diversity
  • World-leading arts and culture precinct