The new Hawke's Bay Food Hub is one step closer to reality, with Hastings District Council green lighting the first stage of development with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Last month the project received $12 million from the Provincial Growth Fund, with the project and operational costs for 15 years estimated to cost $18 million in total.
This week, the council authorised entering a delivery agreement with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, as long as the council was not exposed to any unbudgeted financial risk or future contingent liabilities.
The agreement was a pre-requisite for the funds being released.
Once confirmed, and the final $6 million worth of funding secured from other investors, the council would then transfer the construction and operation of the Food Innovation Hub to another entity.
The Food Hub will be a collaborative space for the food, beverage and agri-tech sector in Hawke's Bay to harness the regions potential in the industry.
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The project has been two years in the making, with an industry-led governance group, supported by Hawke's Bay councils, looking to cement the region's place as a centre of excellence for food in New Zealand.
It will also aim to foster innovation, collaboration, and build skills, bringing economic benefits and employment opportunities to the region.
Governance Group chairman Lee Neville said the facility had huge potential.
"The Hawke's Bay Food Innovation Hub will be a centre of excellence for food, and provide a place for like-minded companies to share ideas and get support to innovate and grow."
With the MBIE agreement in place, efforts will now turn to raising the final $6 million needed to fund the project.