Venture Southland 'one of the most successful' regional development organisations in the country

Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said he was pleased with the results of the recent evaluation.
Robyn Edie/STUFF

Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said he was pleased with the results of the recent evaluation.

A report into Venture Southland rates it as one of the most successful development organisations in the country and cautions it would be a backward step to make significant changes to it.

However, there is an existing proposal for Venture to be incorporated into the newly established Southland Regional Development Agency. 

Venture chief executive Paul Casson said the the report was commissioned to find out how it was perceived by its stakeholders, and what could be done to improve its performance.

The 60-page document was put together by independent researcher Teresa Stevenson, with technical advice provided by Professor Etienne Nel and Professor Tony Binns from the University of Otago.

"Overall it's pretty positive, and some areas have been highlighted where we could focus on more," Casson said. 

​Casson said while changes to the organisation could be positive, they needed to be thought through carefully. 

"I've got absolutely no problem with changing the model ... all organisations have to change at some point.

"What there needs to be is a clear rationale about how and why we're making these changes."

Mayoral Forum chairman and Gore District Council mayor Tracy Hicks said the proposed changes to Venture would not alter its focus.

"I think that any changes we make will only enhance rather than detract from it ... if I thought that altering Venture in any way worked against that, I wouldn't be in the space I'm in.

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"The intent behind the new agency is to get a much broader cross sector focus.

"As opposed to simply a local government organisation, it's going to be one that has stakeholder buy-in across business, community sector, iwi – just a much wider stakeholder group." 

Hicks said he was glad the consultation process was now under way. 

"It's been a challenging time for Venture and the individuals involved, it's been too long. 

"Taking until now to get the consultation process under way, it has been incredibly disappointing, because Venture have been left in a bit of a limbo throughout that time."

The independent report listed five key findings for Venture:

  • that it is aligned well with international best practice, regarding its mission, objectives and strategies. 
  • it was one of the "one of the most innovative and successful" regional development organisations in the country. 
  • it has a very credible reputation in its networking and brokerage role, and its support for economic and community development and marketing of Southland.
  • while limitations existed, it would be a backward step to attempt to "reinvent the wheel" and make significant changes to the focus of the organisation. 
  • as an organisation, it should be "supported and nurtured in continuing its excellent and work in economic and community development".



 - Stuff


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