Committee for the Hunter will appoint a recruitment firm in coming weeks to begin a search for its inaugural chief executive officer.
Committee chair Richard Anicich revealed the move in a speech about the committee's work during the Smaller and Smarter Cities International Symposium in Newcastle on Friday.
Mr Anicich was among a handful of speakers in a presentation about the Hunter Region's progress and priorities on what was the final day of the symposium.
Department of Planning, Industry and Environment director Monica Gibson was the first to talk, outlining some of the progress made since the unveiling of the Hunter Regional Plan and Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan last year.
Ms Gibson said key regional projects being worked on or completed over the past year included: planning for a regional water strategy; development of Lake Macquarie's North West Catalyst Area; infrastructure planning to support new homes in Cessnock; the investment in John Hunter Hospital; discussions around the special activation zone at Williamtown; diversification of the Upper Hunter economy; planning for the Broadmeadow sports and entertainment precinct; and the development of the East Maitland catalyst area, including the new Maitland Hospital.
Speakers that followed included Joe James, the chief executive officer of the Hunter Joint Organisation, and Dr Peter Cock, the chief executive of Newcastle Airport.
The duo spoke about the importance of collaboration to the region's future, before Mr Anicich rounded out the discussion of the topic.
He spoke of Committee for the Hunter's formation and growth since 2018 and its likely role at the forefront of collective advocacy for regional development.
Mr Anicich said it had become clear in the 18 months Committee for the Hunter had been operating that it needed a full-time "face".
"Next week, we will appoint a recruitment agency to start the search and selection process for a CEO - a key stage in our development," he said.
"It cannot be done on a part-time or a voluntary basis.
"We really need to get a person, and hopefully some support behind that person as well, on board early next year and then really start to drive what we're trying to achieve.
"We've come a long way in the past 12 months, we've got a long way to go yet but we're getting there."