Regional economic development minister Shane Jones has redirected $600m of Government investment into shovel-ready projects in a “re-set” of what the Provincial Growth Fund will support.
The cash is made up of repurposed PGF money and unallocated funding from the Government’s Regional Investment Opportunities Contingency.
“Our focus is on the next two to six months but projects that provide longer-term economic benefits, support productivity and strengthen critical infrastructure in the surge regions will remain a priority for investment,” Jones said.
As a result, PGF applicants struggling to get their projects off the ground because of consenting deadlines or co-funding issues would be told this week that their funding had been taken.
The money would be used to help the immediate redeployment of displaced workers and new employment, speed of implementing them, and visibility so that communities could see the work happening.
Tourism projects given the go-ahead included $2.5m to upgrade Raglan Wharf with more berths and better access for commercial and recreational operators and customers visiting retail and hospitality businesses there.
The Westport waterfront was also a winner with $1.86m to redevelop a pedestrian and cycle bridge from the town centre to the riverfront, also providing greater access to PGF-funded project, the Kawatiri Coastal trail and allow trail-related businesses close access to the town centre.
Apollo Foods in Hawke’s Bay received $2.9m for new technology and to upskill workers, while $209,500 was given to Otago engineering firm Te Pari Products to buy equipment that will increase its capacity to supply the primary sector with livestock-handling equipment.
Jones announced larger allocations including up to $100m for waterway fencing, riparian planting and stock water reticulation, $60m for road and rail investments and up to $70m for upgrades of marae, town halls, Pasifika churches and war memorials.
The $60m for local roading and rail projects would be spread across Bay of Plenty, Manawatu-Whanganui, West Coast, Wairarapa, Taranaki, Top of the South and Waikato.
Jones said he expected the projects to create hundreds of jobs throughout the country.
Local roading schemes involved constructing footpaths, cycleways, playgrounds, vegetation management and roadside clearing and would create at least 600 jobs.
The rail projects would fund deferred maintenance like culvert cleaning and drainage improvements in the regions, “which would create 200 jobs”, Jones said.
He added that there had been changes to the Provincial Development Unit’s contracting process to speed up the distribution of the money.
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