The board of the Central Economic Development Agency or CEDA will be chaired by Fonterra director and former New Zealand Agricultural Trade Envoy, Malcolm Bailey.
Four other directors make up the team. They are economist Shamubeel Eaqub, former Toyota senior executive John Fowke, former CentrePort chief executive Blair O'Keeffe and marketing consultant Lucy Griffiths.
The appointments were confirmed by the Palmerston North City and Manawatū District Councils this week. The councils are joint owners of CEDA.
Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith says CEDA will create a single agency for tourism and business development in the region.
"CEDA's aim is make our region a real economic powerhouse and the new CEDA board will provide it with strong direction and leadership."
"The board brings so much expertise and experience that will enable us to build on our region's strengths in food technology, agricultural production and our role as a logistics hub for the lower North Island."
Manawatū District Mayor Margaret Kouvelis says she is delighted with the make-up of the board.
"They not only have the skill set that we need but as leaders in their fields they bring exciting thought leadership to lifting our performance in this region."
"CEDA will work alongside other initiatives that are being developed by the region in terms of pathways to employment. I am proud that we can work together with our partners in Palmerston North to unlock the potential of the region and improve the social and economic wellbeing of all our citizens."
Malcolm Bailey, who farms in the Manawatū region, is the former national president of Federated Farmers and has served on the Fonterra board since 2004. He is also a director of a number of other companies including Westpac New Zealand Limited, and Hopkins Farming Group.
Malcolm says he is looking forward to the challenge of establishing CEDA. The board's first task will be to recruit a chief executive for the agency in the New Year. "I live in the region and I'm very proud of where I live. That is one of the drivers for me in taking on this role. We have a board of directors with diverse skills and experiences who will all have fresh ideas regarding opportunities to take the region forward - that is exciting."
High profile economist and commentator Shamubeel Eaqub sees his involvement in CEDA as an opportunity to put some of the ideas he has been working on into action.
Shamubeel is the author of "Growing Apart: Regional Prosperity in New Zealand", a book that helped put regional development back on the country's agenda. He was also co-author of the Manawatū-Whanganui Growth Study Opportunities Report released in July.
"The region needs to build on stuff it's good at and break down the barriers that are preventing it from realising its potential. There are huge opportunities to generate more from the land and from technological innovation and to make the most of the smart educated people who live there."
John Fowke is the former general manager finance and company secretary of Palmerston North based Toyota New Zealand. John retired from the role last year but still works for the company as a legal consultant and ambassador for the Toyota Motorsport Series. He is the chair of Te Manawa Museum and the Community Law Centre in Palmerston North. He is also a board member of Vision Manawatū.
"CEDA presents an opportunity for the Manawatū region to raise its profile locally and nationally. We need to take advantage of our central location and the talent of our people to increase our economic and cultural wellbeing."
Blair O'Keeffe brings his expertise in transport logistics and commercial background to the role. He has been chief executive of Wellington's CentrePort since 2009. His career includes 16 years in the oil and energy industries where he served in senior international roles.
"The economy of central New Zealand is vital to the wellbeing of the whole country. With its productive hinterland, central location and existing base of activities such as transport and education, there is substantial scope for further economic development."
Lucy Griffiths will bring her business and International food marketing experience to CEDA. She is owner of Innov8 Aotearoa, which assists New Zealand companies to market their products strategically with a focus on export development. A Nuffield New Zealand Scholar, Lucy earlier this year realised her report entitled "Business Plan for NZ Sheep Dairy". Lucy has overseen the sales and distribution of premium agricultural products including Manuka honey, seafood, and wine. She is the founder of several collaborative marketing initiatives including Pure Wairarapa, Indigenous NZ Cuisine and Pure Aotearoa and in addition she sits on several community boards in the tourism, hospitality and social housing sectors.
"The central region is an exciting food hub which has huge potential nationally and internationally and is a leader in research and education. Having worked with and promoted Maori food and beverage producers for over a decade I can also see huge potential for increased productivity across iwi assets in the region and further vertical integration into indigenous branding offshore."