It was not too long ago that school leavers were leaving Hawke’s Bay in their droves. Tempted by big city lights and the promise of high-flying careers, the region was, at the time, seemingly lacking the opportunity, and the excitement to keep the twenty-somethings around.
In recent years, however, thanks to some long-term thinking and perhaps risky business moves by many key individuals and Councils, Hawke’s Bay is flourishing.
In part due to the mass migration away from the big cities and the influx of business opportunities that have come with it.
One such business contributing significantly to both the region’s workforce, and its built environment, is local commercial property management software company, Re-Leased.
Founded in 2012 by Hawke’s Bay local Tom Wallace, it has now gone global with offices in Australia, America, UK and New Zealand, but retains its Research and Development hub, employing over 60 people, in Napier.
“When we created Re-Leased in 2012, the business community and certainly the tech industry was limited within the region,” says Tom. “But being locals, we knew what Hawke’s Bay had to offer from a lifestyle and staff satisfaction standpoint, so we committed to maintaining a considerable presence here to help grow the opportunity and showcase that you can build big business from the regions, and sell to customers anywhere in the world.”
Re-Leased’s commitment to the region has gone a lot further than simply maintaining office space. Recognising that the local tech talent pool was not going to sufficiently meet their growth projections, and having their international pipeline cut off at the knees post the 2020 border closure, the team took a different approach. They doubled down on growing the Hawke’s Bay tech sector by offering the opportunity for locals to train to be coders – free of charge.
Partnering with Dev Academy, New Zealand’s most immersive online coding course, Re-Leased were able to utilise the Government Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), which supports learners undertaking vocational training without fees.
“While we had already developed, and continue to maintain a successful relationship with EIT, regularly taking on their interns and graduates, we felt the time was right to kick things up a notch and take things into our own hands.”
The 15-week intensive course takes those with an interest in coding and turns them into work-ready developers.
“Hosting the Hawke’s Bay cohorts for the Dev Academy has been fantastic for our Junior Developer pipeline. It has allowed us to offer several full-time placements to graduates every year, and it also contributes significantly to the woefully understaffed tech industry for the region as a whole.”
“The aim really is to create opportunity and options for Hawke’s Bay’s job seekers, so that they don’t necessarily believe they have to leave this amazing region to get a good job.”
This significant growth has seen Re-Leased hit maximum capacity at their Ahuriri Tech Hub offices and hence, they are currently collaborating with local commercial property development company, and family business, Wallace Development, to create something special on Marine Parade.
“Napier CBD has come a long way from a few years ago when there was the mass exodus of commercial business over to Ahuriri.”
“It is now a vibrant and busy town centre, and we are excited to bring the team across the hill and have them make the most of what the town has to offer.”
Located at 126 Hastings Street, the building that formerly housed BNZ is being restored to its former glory, with a stunning Art Deco inspired fit out, ground level retail and hospitality, commercial space, car parking and the long awaited rooftop bar.
With remote working at an all-time high post-Covid, developments such as this are embracing change and evolving our towns into people-centred “experience” hubs.
“What we’ve seen post-Covid is that many people became too comfortable working from their kitchen table. In order to get people excited about coming to work, we need to create environments that people want to be in.”
“Sure that’s the cool office space, but it’s also the amenities around it – how far is the best coffee in town? Where’s a great spot to meet mates for a beer after work? With 126 Hastings Street, we have managed to create that all in one place, with the added value of having a view of the Pacific Ocean from your desk.”
Tom’s commitment to the evolution of the region goes far beyond the success of his own business.
“The hope is that we are contributing to creating a sustainable Hawke’s Bay that locals love.”