Duo to help drive social, economic development

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Two new appointments to drive social economic development in the area have been made by the Gore District Council.

Mayor Tracy Hicks announced the appointment of Ceri Macleod as economic development co-ordinator and Bernadette Hunt as social capacity and health co-ordinator.

The women will be engaged on a part-time basis as contractors to the mayoral office.

Mr Hicks said rather than employing the two women they were contracted for specific tasks and would report directly to him.

Growth was a focus of Mr Hicks in this term in office, he said.

While he had not used the contract system before, it was not unusual among other local bodies, he said.

The contracts would run for the term of the council.

The two positions would add up to about 40 hours a week.

The contracts were not advertised, he said.

“This is about getting the right person for the job.”

Mrs MacLeod already worked for the council and her current role would be advertised soon.

“At the moment it’s not extra but it will become extra,” he said.

Mr Hicks said the council had committed to making economic development and building community capacity a focus, as the challenge posed by population growth had become more defined.

“Like many provincial towns we are facing some serious challenges around population growth, so to do nothing is not an option,” Mr Hicks said.

“There are some great opportunities out there right now.”

“For too long we have been a bystander when it comes to building our community, economically and socially, when in reality we need to be an enabler and enhancer.”

Mr Hicks said he was looking forward to encouraging economic development, whether it was in the tourism space or business sector, more strategically.

“It’s all about making the most of the opportunities available that will build value in the community.”

The two women would bring a wealth of skills and experience to their roles, Mr Hicks said.

Mrs Macleod, who has a master’s degree in economic development and regeneration, worked in economic development roles in the United Kingdom and Australia before moving to Gore with her family to live.

Mrs Hunt serves on the executive of Federated Farmers Southland and is chairwoman of its meat and fibre group.

She is well known for her involvement in the successful Gore Kids Hub project.