The Bay of Plenty stands to significantly benefit from the launch of the Government's Provincial Growth Fund, according to Bay of Connections regional growth strategy chairman Doug Leeder.
Details of the fund were revealed this afternoon in Gisborne by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
The $3 billion fund, $1 billion per year for three years, aims to enhance economic development opportunities, create sustainable jobs, contribute to community wellbeing, lift the productivity potential of regions, and help meet New Zealand's climate change targets.
In a media statement, Leeder said the fund would help progress and support significant growth development projects across the region, including Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo and Western Bay of Plenty.
"Our region is one of the most diverse in the country. We have small settlements and communities, through to large towns and cities. Sadly, we also have some of the worst pockets of deprivation in New Zealand.
"However, we have important natural resources, such as water and geothermal energy, critical infrastructure such as the Port of Tauranga, Maori land opportunities, and strength in sectors like forestry, aquaculture, tourism, horticulture and more.
Leeder said Bay of Connections had already identified significant economic growth opportunities and projects within each of these, which stood to make a positive difference to people and communities throughout the region through the creation of jobs, improved incomes, and better training and pathways for the rangitahi.
"By working together across our region – and by partnering with government – we can advance these opportunities which have the potential, in the words of the Prime Minister, to 'change towns and lives'."
Leeder said the Bay of Plenty had made significant progress in regional development over recent years, ensuring it was in the best possible position to be able to identify and refine projects and developments to feed into the Provincial Growth Fund pipeline.
There were also opportunities for Bay of Plenty to capitalise on the ambitious target to plant one billion trees, with the announcement that the Government was opening applications for the Afforestation Grants Scheme.
The scheme provides $1300 of government funding per hectare for new forests between five and 300 hectares.
Also included in announcements today was a $250,000 grant for a KiwiRail feasibility study in Kawerau, a critical component of the proposed Kawerau Container Terminal.
Leeder said increasing the use of rail for exports offered significant benefits for local industry, including supply chain efficiencies, as well as positive social and environmental impacts.
"The involvement of local councils, economic development agencies, Maori organisations and industry in all corners of the region ensures the exploration of projects and programmes that touch every part of our rohe, and with the potential to reach every person in our community.
"Minister Jones has laid down the challenge for business, civic leaders and regions to get organised and co-ordinated to make the best use of the PGF to advance growth for our people.
"We are in the fortunate position of having had the Bay of Connections framework in place for the past 10 years, so we have the track record, action plan, relationships and partnerships with Government agencies in place to be able to co-ordinate and support the needs of our region. This work is set to accelerate at pace with the development and launch of this fund."