MONDAY’S launch of Lightning Hub, a collaborative workspace where new and growing businesses can develop their ideas, attracted over 50 of the region’s movers and shakers.

Located on the first floor of Niederer Plaza on The Strand, the partnership of Tristan Vine and co-directors, Briton Williams and Matthew Davis has rapidly evolved into one of the most talked-about business opportunities in some time.

“It’s the modern way of business. Technology is taking over and having an innovation hub helps business become established and expand,” Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne said at the opening

“They are bringing that technology to Whakatane, which I think is fantastic.”

Mr Bonne said two or three years ago, there was a belief Whakatane could become another zombie town. But he said the reality showed the Eastern Bay was rapidly becoming a player in the future of business.

“I get very passionate about what’s happening in the region. We have innovation here and others have seen the growth and positivity in the region,” he said.

Neiderer Plaza co-owner Bruce McKinnon said Lightning Hub had an office capacity that would attract more small businesspeople into the town centre.

“That means that this end of town is going to have a whole lot more people in it and everything will be a lot better,” he said.

He said though business had advanced over the last few years, the town itself had not grown as much as the economy would suggest. He sees the company as a leader in bringing more resources and business talent.

“They are building critical mass and when you get a critical mass, things happen,” he said.

Labour list MP Kiri Allan said new ways of thinking were needed to take advantage of the trend towards state-of-the-art business opportunities. She said the industries previous generations turned to for work were shifting.

“These industries are changing rapidly. No longer will our children be able to rely on the same industries that supported our families for generations because of the fast rate of change through technology,” she said.

“There is a massive emphasis to create more growth and innovation and practically all research was done through collaborating. These guys have created a think-tank for us here in Whakatane.”

Mr Vine said he and his partners looked forward to how people in the region would use their services to create the future. He said they saw beyond helping just the business sector.

“We are honoured and proud to be able to deliver a full service that will help grow our communities, economic development and social enterprises,” he said.

“This is one side of a two-sided coin. Our passions are in the social enterprise ventures we do in the communities. This is the vehicle to be able to work with youth to bring innovations like robotics and other technologies.”

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