He's moved back to his hometown and got behind the wheel of one the region's most important machines helping to drive the Bay of Plenty economy.
Nigel Tutt took over the top job at Priority One – as their new chief executive – last November. And in his first full year on the job he hopes to carry on the work of building a vibrant local economy that attracts business and people.
But he admits Tauranga has challenges – and benefits – along the way. “I think what has pleasantly surprised me is there is a lot of goodwill towards Priority One form local businesses and generally. So that's awesome.”
Nigel says there's a number of factors that make Tauranga a better place to do business. “The location clearly being in the Golden Triangle [of here, Auckland and Hamilton] is important – and proximity to NZ's best port. That's huge for businesses.
“It's also a very collaborative and collegial business community – they all seem to help each other out and are very keen to further the interests of the Western BOP.
“And clearly it's good location to attract staff as well,” says Nigel, who has been the Auckland-based chief executive of a marketing technology company with offices in NZ and Australia and spent many years in the newspaper and publishing industry, including general manager to lead Fairfax's digital media arm.
But there are roadblocks to getting business into Tauranga. “At large business level, it's a big investment to move anyway, so that's always a challenge.
“We have growing pain-type issues – affordability of housing transport etc – but it appears local bodies and representatives are well gauged in terms of that.
“Then there is community – and what we need to build a great city and great region.”
So is it easy to gets businesses to come here? “I don't think we're particularly getting a lot of pushback at the small to medium size business level. But for large businesses relocating is a big undertaking. So I wouldn't say it's easy but clearly there is a lot of momentum and we're getting a lot of enquiries.”
Nigel says the good part of the region's growth “is we can then spend a bit more on infrastructure and get those projects happening”.
What about our skillbase? “We are getting a huge amount of enquiries from people wanting to move to the area. We're getting around 10 per day.”
“But if you talk to local businesses – getting the right people is the number one priority. It's about match people with employers.
And more people coming to town allows businesses better access to talent, says Nigel.
“What is really good about the Tauranga area is we're seeing now there are many more job opportunities – and opportunities to build a career rather than just have one job here.
“That's very good important for attracting talent.”
While there's nothing major Nigel wants to change about the Priority One formula, he says they will “take look at what our strategy is and how it works and the environment we're in – so you'd expect to see some changes out of that”.