Funding decisions will be game changers for regional economy
Economic development organisation, Priority One, is thrilled with today’s announcement by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to provide a funding contribution to four projects that have the ability to significantly transform the region’s economy.
Council has confirmed funding of up to $15 million for the development of a tertiary and research campus in Tauranga’s city centre, up to $5 million for haul out infrastructure that will catalyse the development of Harbour Central Marine Precinct at Sulphur Point in Tauranga, up to $18 million for the development of Opotiki Harbour to allow access for vessels to enable the growth of a viable aquaculture industry, and up to $2.5 million for a new innovation centre at Rotorua’s Scion Innovation Park.
Andrew Coker, Priority One’s Chief Executive, says “We are so fortunate to have a regional council so clearly committed to economic development. Quite simply, they are unique in this regard in New Zealand in terms of their contribution and commitment to delivering a step change to our economy.”
The development of a university campus experience in the city centre has been a key area of focus for Priority One and SmartGrowth in recent years. The tertiary and research campus will cost $67.3 million in total and is being developed by the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Partnership, comprising the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, University of Waikato and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, based in Whakatane. Tauranga City Council is a strong supporter of the project, providing land in Durham Street for the development on a 33 year lease at no cost to the partnership.
Andrew says “This partnership is unique to New Zealand and will provide long term benefits that will play a critical role in supporting sustainable regional economic development. The city centre campus development is a key project to enable the University of Waikato to grow to scale in the Bay of Plenty, providing student pathways to higher education. Today’s announcement will also assist the region develop applied research to support industry and economic growth.”
The new campus is predicted to generate $133 million in regional revenue and provide over 600 new jobs. It will also significantly revitalise the city centre and will strengthen the business case for other projects such as the development of an international hotel and conference centre, as well as student accommodation.
Harbour Central Marine Precinct is an initiative to develop a state-of-the-art marine business park on Tauranga City Council-owned land beside the Tauranga harbour bridge at Sulphur Point. An economic impact study commissioned by Tauranga City Council earlier this year forecast nearly 200 new jobs and nearly $50 million in revenue would come into the economy from a development of this type. It will also add substantial value to New Zealand’s marketability for high-end refit services provision.
Funding for the Opotiki District Council’s Opotiki Harbour Transformation project will enable the development of twin groynes and dredging to create an entrance at Opotiki Harbour that will be able to be navigated in most conditions. A social and economic impact report commissioned by the council indicated that the Opotiki Harbour Transformation project, in conjunction with the Eastern Sea Farms marine farm and processing plant and other economic activity they would stimulate, would transform the Opotiki community and bring extensive benefits for the entire Eastern Bay of Plenty, creating around 236 jobs and increasing GDP by around $33.5 million.
The Scion Innovation Centre will be a hub for research and development firms in the forestry and wood sectors, creating a cluster of like-minded businesses for collaboration and innovation. The centre will attract high-tech businesses that are targeting new markets for forest and wood-derived products and services and will be similar to the Ag-biotech hub at the Waikato Innovation Park. Based on research from NZ Institute of Economic Research, the project could help create thousands of jobs and increase export earnings by up to $1 billion.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Regional Infrastructure Fund was created to provide additional capital funding to assist the development of major infrastructure projects in the Bay of Plenty. $38 million was set aside over nine years to June 2022, however the council has increased the fund to $40.5 million for the projects outlined above. The fund is targeted at projects that support sustainable economic growth or that provide environmental protection and enhancement by supporting sustainable regional economic development.