This week has seen three separate funding announcements in the eastern Bay of Plenty through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). Taken together, Toi EDA Chair, David Turner, said it represented an opportunity to make an intergenerational transformation to the Eastern BOP.
- PGF funding of $19.9 million was announced to develop infrastructure at the Putauaki Trust Industrial Hub in Kawerau to build rail siding and roads to connect the area to transport, ports and global markets.
- A further $10.6 million was invested in the remote community of Raukokere to design and build a water storage scheme that will act as a catalyst for under-utilised, under-developed Māori land.
- And funding for the Ōpōtiki Harbour project of $79.4 million was announced at the Auckland Infrastructure Conference, the biggest investment the PGF has made to date.
David Turner, Chair of Toi EDA, said that it had been a big week for the Eastern Bay of Plenty and the injection of funding would have a lasting impact.
“The Eastern Bay of Plenty has some poor statistics around unemployment and under employment, low average incomes, poor health and housing outcomes and so on. This is particularly true for our young people.
“It’s for this reason, central government highlighted the Eastern Bay as a ‘surge region’. Like Toi EDA, the government can see we have so much potential – pristine waters, great climate, geothermal energy, and amazing people. This funding helps us to unlock that potential and to improve our growth and wellbeing statistics.
“However, ultimately the responsibility to deliver these outcomes rests on us, the Eastern Bay community. The government with this support has given us an enormous boost, and now the baton of responsibility passes to us to deliver the outcomes that these projects promise.
“Toi EDA will be working to support this process over the next couple of years as the projects come to life,” Mr Turner said.
The funding announcements were also welcomed by Toi EDA’s General Manager, Karl Gradon, who said that the work done over the past few years would show its value in light of this flurry of funding announcements.
Toi EDA has already established workforce programmes in anticipation of the funding, such as the establishment of the Driver Operator Training Centre to train local driver and operator skills, and logistics and warehousing.
“We have been working in the background with communities to ensure that our region is ready for the changes that this infrastructure will bring and to reduce the ‘lag’ that can often accompany a funding announcement of this type. Our Workforce Development Manager, Barbara MacLennan has been working with partners to ensure people know the opportunities emerging and that they can gain the skills and qualifications they need right here in the Eastern Bay. We have also been working with industry and councils to better understand and plan for the coming growth so that together we are in a good position to hit the ground running,” Mr Gradon said.