A tertiary campus in downtown Tauranga will generate benefits of $188 million over the next 20 years and provide a rate of return of more than 30 per cent on the initial investment, a new report says.
The Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership - comprising the University of Waikato, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi and Waiariki Institute of Technology - has had plans for a CBD campus on the cards for several years.
Chairman Bill Wasley said the benefits of the project to the economic and social development of the region were clear and it showed what could be achieved when organisations worked together.
"This project has been driven and supported by the community from day one and this report backs the community view that a campus development in Tauranga will be hugely beneficial to the entire region."
The June Benefit Cost Analysis Report said the plan was robust and an "attractive investment opportunity" with low risk and the potential to impact positively on many key areas of the Bay of Plenty economy.
It would see nearly 6500 students start studies in Tauranga between 2015 and 2035 and provide more than 4000 graduates to the region.
Graduates would provide one of the "key benefits" from the development and this will be reflected in higher salaries and productivity gains for employers. The additional research possible through the campus will increase 'the innovation, economic, environmental and social capacity of the city and region'.
The report, prepared by Professor Frank Scrimgeour from the Waikato Management School, shows the campus - while still reliant on funding - would also impact positively on attracting researchers and teachers, postgraduate students, international students, and retaining undergraduate students in Tauranga, along with allowing the development of new programmes for delivery in Tauranga.
University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford said the University-led campus development would deliver programmes and activities directly related to areas of economic development in the region.
"It will enable a step change in improving social, educational and economic outcomes for people in the region," he said.
An earlier economic impact report showed that in 2013 the University of Waikato's operations in the Bay of Plenty generated more than $8 million in GDP for the region and created 43 jobs.
"With a fully-fledged campus in downtown Tauranga, there will be more economic and community benefits and more jobs created, bringing real benefits to the region."