The wider Bay of Plenty region, its economy and its people stand to significantly benefit from the launch of the government's Provincial Growth Fund, says the Bay of Connections regional growth strategy chairman Doug Leeder.
Details of the fund were revealed in Gisborne on Friday by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones.
The $3 billion fund ($1 billion per year for three years) aims to enhance economic development opportunities, create sustainable jobs, contribute to community well-being, lift the productivity potential of regions, and help meet New Zealand's climate change targets.
Doug says the wider Bay of Plenty applauds the development and launch of the PGF, which will help progress and support significant growth development projects across the region, including Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo and Western Bay of Plenty.
“Our region is one of the most diverse in the country. We have small settlements and communities, through to large towns and cities. Sadly, we also have some of the worst pockets of deprivation in New Zealand.
“However, we have important natural resources, such as water and geothermal energy, critical infrastructure such as the Port of Tauranga, Maori land opportunities, and strength in sectors like forestry, aquaculture, tourism, horticulture and more.
“We have already identified significant economic growth opportunities and projects within each of these, which stand to make a positive difference to people and communities across the entire region through the creation of jobs, improved incomes, and better training and pathways for our rangitahi.
“By working together across our region – and by partnering with government – we can advance these opportunities which have the potential, in the words of the Prime Minister, to ‘change towns and lives'.”
Doug says the wider Bay of Plenty region has made significant progress in regional development over recent years, ensuring it is in the best possible position to be able to identify and refine projects and developments to feed into the PGF pipeline.
He says there are also opportunities for the Bay of Plenty to capitalise on the ambitious target to plant one billion trees, with the announcement the government is opening applications for the Afforestation Grants Scheme. The scheme provides $1300 of Government funding per hectare for new forests between five and 300 hectares.
Also included in announcements is a $250,000 grant for a KiwiRail feasibility study in Kawerau, a critical component of the proposed Kawerau Container Terminal.
Doug says increasing the use of rail for exports offers significant benefits for local industry, including supply chain efficiencies, as well as positive social and environmental impacts.
“The involvement of local councils, economic development agencies, Maori organisations and industry in all corners of the region ensures the exploration of projects and programmes that touch every part of our rohe, and with the potential to reach every person in our community.
“Minister Jones has laid down the challenge for business, civic leaders and regions to get organised and co-ordinated to make the best use of the PGF to advance growth for our people.
“We are in the fortunate position of having had the Bay of Connections framework in place for the past 10 years, so we have the track record, action plan, relationships and partnerships with government agencies in place to be able to co-ordinate and support the needs of our region. This work is set to accelerate at pace with the development and launch of this fund.
“The PGF is a bold endeavour and we congratulate the coalition Government on its development. We look forward to working with our people, as well as continuing to partner with Central Government politicians and officials in order to secure the benefits for our region,” says Doug.