Publish date: 18/10/2018

Enterprise North Canterbury (ENC) has been named the winner of the Best Practice Award for Primary Research at the Economic Development NZ (EDNZ) Awards.

Presented at the EDNZ Conference in the Bay of Islands on October 18, the award acknowledges the North Canterbury Community Connector Project which was initiated by ENC in 2014.

The Project started as an investigation into the Culverden business community to identify its needs and to create a subsequent plan for the community to act on. The investigation found a problematically high level of staff turnover in the region as well as significant social isolation amongst residents. ENC worked with the business community to establish and fund a Community Connector for the Culverden area; someone who would identify and talk to people at risk of social isolation, find out what their needs were and connect them to clubs, services and relevant resources to improve their situation.

ENC Business Support Manager Miles Dalton, who was part of the team to carry out the initial investigation said that the local community was key to the success of the Community Connector Project.

“The Culverden business community put in cash to allow this to happen and we raised enough funding on top of that to enable the role to keep going for two years. The establishment of the role proved timely when the region was impacted by a large earthquake in 2016. The Community Connector turned out to be the perfect role for bringing people and resources together, which expedited the recovery of the Hurunui region.

“The local community has really taken ownership of this scheme, which is great to see, and it has now been used as an example of community led development for other regions.”

ENC Chief Executive Heather Warwick said, “We are thrilled to win this national award for best practice on a project that was initiated by ENC. This project has successfully connected newcomers to the Culverden community, giving them a sense of belonging and acceptance and breaking down barriers of isolation.”

The Culverden community continues to raise funds and find sponsorship with a view to continuing the Community Connector role indefinitely.

The annual EDNZ Awards are now in their second year and aim to celebrate and promote best practice economic development across New Zealand whilst providing for recognition of individuals and organisations.

Enterprise North Canterbury was established in 2002 to promote economic development in North Canterbury, working alongside businesses to develop an innovative and prosperous region.