Whakatāne has been given a $2.5 million boost to speed up previously funded projects and create more than 450 jobs in the next decade.
Of those, the equivalent of 160 fulltime jobs could be delivered in the next six weeks.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is in town to make the announcement at a hui at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi this morning. The Provincial Growth Fund top-up will help "speed up" the riverfront revitalisation, the commercial boat harbour and the kāinga development, according to a press release.
The three projects previously received $36.8m as part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme.
Peters said the funding also complemented the $8.2m worker redeployment package allocated for Whakatāne this month "and provides the support needed to strengthen and revitalise Whakatāne for years to come".
"This package is about jobs, and about community confidence."
Bay of Plenty-based Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, said the investments would "play a significant role in our economic recovery from Covid-19".
He said when the initial funding for the three projects was announced in March 2020 it was estimated the projects would create 453 new direct and indirect jobs in the region by 2030 and "attract future investment, unlock tourism, cultural and commercial opportunities across the district".
Today's announcement "puts the turbo boost on the region's economic opportunities and needs now", he said.
Whakatāne mayor Judy Turner said the latest investment would be able to deliver the equivalent of 160 fulltime jobs in the next six weeks, with more than 100 jobs able to start immediately.
She said it would provide "urgent economic relief", particularly for those who lost jobs as a result of Covid-19.
"We'll be able to support local contractors to take on workers, co-ordinate with the Ministry of Social Development to secure positions for those most impacted, and provide an opportunity for training and career development."
She said continued Government support was a huge boost for the region after major setbacks with the Whakaari/White Island eruption in December 2019 and Covid-19.
"Whakatāne has been hit hard in the past six months, but we will rebuild and recover."
Projected benefits from the boat harbour and riverfront revitalisation
• More than 450 jobs by 2030 (direct and indirect)
• More than 930 new jobs by 2050 (direct and indirect)
• More than $80m local GDP growth per annum
• Opportunity to attract $100m private investment in CBD
• $111m additional GDP contribution by 2050
Whakatāne riverfront revitalisation
• Led by the Whakatāne District Council in partnership with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa.
• Upgrade to the riverfront promenade and remediation and improved accessibility of the existing town wharf.
Commercial boat harbour
• Led by Te Rāhui Lands Trust in partnership with the Whakatāne District Council, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited.
• Situated on a 10.9ha block of Māori freehold land.
• To address the need for more berths and better protection from the dynamic river environment.
• Led by Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa.
• Site of the Whakatāne Army Hall will be rebuilt promoting and celebrating heritage, culture and stories of Ngāti Awa.
• To provide a destination for recreational and commercial visitors and a venue for community events.