The Government is pumping $18 million into Rangiuru Business Park at Te Puke.
The funding will kick-start a project that has been in the pipeline for 15 years and which could ultimately create 4000 jobs.
Business and city leaders have applauded the move that is likely to attract more companies to the Western Bay as direct rail links to the Port of Tauranga are developed.
Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau touched down in the township yesterday and described the announcement as a significant boost to workers, their families and, in turn, the region's economy.
The money from the Provincial Growth Fund would be used to construct an interchange connecting the industrial park with the Tauranga Eastern Link.
The business park would be the region's "largest consented green field industrial zone" when finished, he said.
It would be built on 226 hectares of land and the construction phase alone would create more than 200 jobs, he said.
"In the medium to longer-term, it is predicted 4000 jobs will be available at Rangiuru, half of them high paying positions. It also offers the opportunity to develop a dedicated rail link to the Port of Tauranga and the national rail network.''
Western Bay of Plenty District Council mayor Garry Webber told the Bay of Plenty Times he was ''chuffed to bits''.
''Because it's a shovel ready project, it's ready to go. All the consenting's in place so it's a matter now of starting the work,'' he said.
Webber said he hoped the project would be put out to tender before Christmas and work would start early in 2021.
He said the announcement was a significant milestone in the development of the business park.
''It's a great development for the east and it really opens up the area from Whakatāne, Rotorua, Paengaroa, Pongakawa and Te Puke into quite a central service area for the port.''
He said he was aware that, in anticipation of the announcement, there had already been inquiries about blocks of land within the park.
''That's because of the close proximity to the port and it's [location] in the heart of the kiwifruit area.''
The possibility of rail links with the port would also be significant.
''It could be the central consolidation point for Zespri to get ship loads all containerised here and then go through to the Port of Tauranga, straight off the train and onto the ship. And that is one of the big things, it will take a lot of those heavy trucks off the road.''
Te Puke Economic Development Group managing director Mark Boyle said the announcement was another step towards enabling those wanting to invest in and be located at the business park to achieve that.
''Realistically we are talking about agri-businesses. It could be in the area of food production, value adding food type products, and other industries, particularly in logistics, that would like to be located at Rangiuru in close proximity to the port.''
He said those wanting to locate at Rangiuru would see the announcement as a vote of confidence in progressing the park.
''It's probably the most significant announcement in terms of Te Puke's wider economy in the last few years, other than the growth of kiwifruit.''
Quayside Holdings was the property investment arm of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Its chief executive Scott Hamilton said the announcement was the culmination of lot of work.
''Fifteen years ago was the start of the process when Rangiuru was identified as a book end within the Western Bay catchment.
''It has a pivotal location in terms of the growth areas we see in the west and the opportunities we see coming and being supported by the Provincial Growth Fund in the east.''
Priority One chief operating officer Greg Simmonds said unlocking the potential of Rangiuru Business Park is strategically important for the sustainable future growth of the Western Bay.
''It will support the region's efforts to grow high value businesses and jobs. We believe the demand for industrial land will continue to grow over the long term and ensuring there is adequate forward planning for likely demand is critical.''
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said it was fantastic news and it was on its medium term planning as a good storage option and ''we are looking at developing rail access in there as well''.
For example, it would give Auckland industrial users the chance to develop land and they would have access to import or export product through Tauranga.
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell said he was ''absolutely thrilled'' and he credited Webber because it's ''a critically important business park''.
''And having access to it is something we have been hoping to create for some time.''
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said Rangiuru Business Park was a key feature of the next phase of the Western Bay of Plenty's future.
''It will provide employment opportunities for Te Puke, Maketu and Papamoa East communities. Rangiuru connects with the transport innovation hub in Kawerau, which also received PGF funding in February.
''These projects are helping to create a strong network along the coast that better connects the Bay's primary sector with the Port of Tauranga.''
- Additional reporting Carmen Hall
Rangiuru Business Park Timeline
2005: Original land purchase takes place.
2008: Original rezoning consent approved.
August 2015: Opening of TEL creates the potential for an interchange serving the business park.
June 2017: Environment Court decision clears the way for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's investment arm Quayside Holdings to begin development.
May 2019: Western Bay of Plenty District Council applies for $20 million from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund for an interchange to provide access to the business park.
April 2020: A bid for $120 million is made to the Government's Crown Infrastructure Partners for development of the business park.
May 2020: A joint bid from seven Bay of Plenty councils for $755 million in Government economic stimulus funding for transport projects includes $23.5m for upgrading roads and rail crossings for the business park.
July 2020: Government approves $18 million of Provincial Growth Fund money for the construction of an interchange connecting the industrial park with the TEL.