In a show of support for the proposed Hawke's Bay Food Innovation Hub, Hastings District Council has agreed to allocate funds for the project, subject to additional funding coming from other regional sources.
The hub is projected to be a centre of excellence in food processing skills training, a place of sustainable food and beverage innovations, production and packaging and a centre of entrepreneurship in food business.
Earlier business case studies identified this facility as a strategically important asset for Hawke's Bay, expected to generate $100 million of additional regional gross product over 10 years, as well as more than 500 skilled jobs.
• Hastings District Council election results: Who's in and who's out
• Lowe's Lake set to be filled next year after Hastings District Council stormwater decision
• Hastings District Council to hold extraordinary meeting over water museum leak
• Hastings District Council mulls Splash Planet expansion
Representatives on the project come from the likes of councils, iwi, Eastern Institute of Technology, Waikato University, Plant & Food Research and the business community.
In September this year the Provincial Growth Fund announced a $12m grant towards the estimated $18m cost of the hub – subject to the remaining $6m coming from other investors.
An initial sum of $600,000 in regional funding from local councils is timetabled to be secured by March 2020 and the remaining $5.4m from other sources by the end of June next year.
This week the council approved an investment of up to $200,000 (subject to securing regional funding of $600,000) to fund the establishment costs of the hub.
It also approved including up to $800,000 in the draft 2021 Annual Plan as its contribution to the regional investment of $6m, if it was needed.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the Food Innovation Hub could make a huge difference to the district's growing agriculture and horticulture industry, supporting and accelerating that growth and building on the region's competitive advantage.
"This facility will be a centre of excellence for industry training and development, building capability for the food, beverage and agri-tech sectors.
"It will also help to innovate the industry so they can be on the front foot of the changing trends of consumers," Hazlehurst said.
"It will put Hastings and Hawke's Bay on the map as an industry-leading region, as well as stimulate significant economic value, unlocking jobs for our people."