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SA Govt headhunts UK expert for investment agency

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A leading European trade and economic adviser has been headhunted by the Weatherill Government to spearhead a new agency designed to attract investment in South Australia.

Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith told InDaily on Friday Welsh global economic expert Mike Hnyda would head the government’s new investment agency, created to attract and inject investment into the state.

Hnyda will take up his new post as the agency’s chief executive from October 1.

“I look forward to working with the minister, the agency’s chairman Rob Chapman and new team to make it one of the best investment arms in the world,” he said.

Hamilton-Smith said Hnyda’s track record in delivering major investments for his home country was “unrivalled”.

“For more than a decade, (Hnyda) has led teams responsible for attracting the largest investment projects to Wales, including Amazon, Ford, Quinn Group, Toyota Gorsai, Intertissue Ltd and Glen Dimplex,” he said.

“Mr Hnyda also led the delivery of the Welsh Government’s international engagement strategy to support an increase in trade, exports growth and job creation.

“The Premier (Jay Weatherill) met with him and subsequently wanted him for the job.

“He’s got the right attitude, he’s positive and energised.

“We found he was highly suited to the role.”

Hamilton-Smith said the government chose to search overseas rather than domestically for an agency head.

“For the CEO we wanted someone who understood overseas markets,” he said.

“We need to be an outward looking economy.”

Chapman welcomed Hnyda’s appointment, saying he brought a dynamic and results-oriented expertise in foreign direct investment to the state.

“I look forward to working with Mr Hnyda to strengthen and coordinate our investment and promotion activities to capitalise on major opportunities with a focus on creating jobs here in the state,” Chapman said.

The creation of the agency, Hamilton-Smith added, signalled a new era in state investment that saw a focus on small to medium enterprises, rather than the traditional big business.

He said the body would “aggressively” and “actively” seek investment to SA from other states and internationally, particularly new markets in China, India and Japan while building on existing relationships with Europe and North America.

While no investment or jobs targets have been announced, Hamilton-Smith said up to 80 per cent of the agency’s energy would be dedicated to support and stripping away “red tape” while the remainder would provide some financial assistance.

“We’ll be hitting the ground running,” he said.

“(The agency) will run fast and have the freedom to do their job without being held back by bureaucracy.

“It is that basket of companies that we need to encourage to invest [in South Australia].

“There is no magic pudding. There are no simple solutions, there is just going to be a lot of hard work.”

Hnyda’s appointment comes almost three months after the agency was announced in the 2015-16 state budget and seven weeks after Adelaide Crows chairman and banking executive Rob Chapman was named chairman.

The government set aside $15 million in the budget to attract new and growth industries from interstate and around the world.

The agency was drawn out of a need identified by the state’s Economic Development Board to increase an investment body focused on attracting international business growth

Modelled on similar funds in Ireland and Singapore, the new body’s MO is to focus on foreign direct investment which would ultimately lead to job creation for SA.

The agency will sit within the state’s industry and trade portfolio and answer to the minister.

During the agency’s announcement in July this year, Hamilton-Smith said the body was created to help SA “forge its own future” creating jobs for young people entering the workforce and workers wanting a new career.

Money will be available to companies planning to expand within the state or businesses to move to SA.

“We will be working to attract capital to growth sectors, establish new operations of international firms and facilitate the start-up of new industries,” Hamilton-Smith said at the time.

Existing industries, such as agribusiness, resources, health, services and advanced manufacturing will be some of the industries forging new investments for the state.

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