More than 150 long- and medium-term jobs have been created with the building of a new distribution hub for Countdown supermarkets.

Construction has started on the new, purpose-built distribution centre in Palmerston North.

The hub will move more than 450,000 cartons a week to Countdown, FreshChoice and SuperValue stores from Gisborne to Wellington.

More than 100 construction workers will be employed on the 38,000sq m project which is three times the size of the current distribution store.

When the build is complete more than 50 new roles will be created - adding new members to the 150 employed at the existing centre.

Brett Ashley, Countdown's general manager store operations and supply chain, said the impact of Covid-19 had shown the importance of a strong supply chain.

"We could never have imagined the responsibility supermarkets have held over the last few months to safely and quickly provide Kiwis with food and essentials.

"We've pushed our supply chain beyond what we ever thought was possible."

Mayor Grant Smith said the sheer size of the hub - a freight and distribution hub for the lower North Island - was a positive for Palmerston North.

"The project is significant in size and is another positive sign of development in the city to provide job opportunities for building, construction and associated trades."

The project added more jobs to the 1200 forecast in construction with the Government's fast-tracking of 11 "shovel ready" projects nationwide.

The 11 projects to be fast-tracked include:

• Kaikohe water storage facility – to provide water for agricultural and horticultural use and drinking water in Kaikohe. This project is expected to provide -70 jobs.

• High density housing on the Unitech site in Auckland - 250 jobs

• Te Pa Tahuna – Phase 1 – up to 180 residential units and retail space in Queenstown. Up to 100 jobs.

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• Papakāinga Network Development – the delivery of Papakainga in Kaitaia, Pt Chevalier, Raglan, Waitara, the Chatham Islands and Christchurch. It is being delivered by Māori developers with support from Te Puni Kōkiri. Will help retain and expand the existing workforce.

• Britomart East Upgrade – 30 jobs.

• Papakura to Pukekohe electrification - 85 jobs.

• Wellington Metro Upgrade programme – aimed at increasing the passenger and freight capacity of trains between Masterton, Levin and Wellington - 90 jobs.

• Picton Ferry Dock and Terminal upgrade – improve rail services by expanding the docks and upgrading the passenger terminal - 200 jobs.

• Northern Pathway – a cycleway and walkway between Westhaven and Akoranga in Auckland - 50 jobs.

• Papakura to Drury SH1 roading upgrade including new walking and cycling facilities to improve highway access and safety. Up to 350 jobs.

• Te Ara Tūpuna – a cycleway and walkway between Petone and Ngauranga in Wellington - 40 jobs.

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