Ōpōtiki's mayor says the future of the town is "right now" as it can move forward with development projects that will improve safety and create about 130 jobs.

Ōpōtiki was one of the big winners in yesterday's Provincial Growth Fund announcement outlining a $60 million cash injection for councils and KiwiRail to create employment for local workers.

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The Ōpōtiki District Council has been allocated $500,000 for coastal pathways, $881,000 for Motu Cycleway extensions, $40,000 for the Ōpōtiki Horse Trail and $2.9m towards the district's 29km of footpaths.


Together, these projects are expected to provide about 130 fulltime positions.

Riesterer said the funding would not only help accelerate the completion of the district's projects but also provide jobs.

"The future of Ōpōtiki is right now, we have a lot of projects going on, this gives us the opportunity to get more people employed. Several of our businesses will need to expand with the extra work coming in and within that lies the training aspect."

In the past, Riesterer said, upgrades to footpaths had to be drip-fed due to financial constraints but being able to get them all done at once would improve safety.

"I was very thrilled. It means we can get all of our footpathing, which is the really big one, done in one big hit over the next year or so. In the past we've only been able to budget a certain amount each year to get the next little bit done. It's a huge thing for Ōpōtiki.

"It means we can actually get everything up-to-date for modern mobility standards. The footpaths need to be wider, we've got to get the ramps sorted a lot better. It'll improve people's safety, as will the cycleway, which will also encourage people to use it more."

She said the flow-on effect of job creation from the extra funding was greatly needed as people were hurting from the Covid-19 lockdown, and the projects would encourage locals to retrain and make themselves available for the new jobs.

"This work will provide jobs for people who have been displaced from their jobs because of Covid-19, we're looking at about 130 fulltime positions. We're not witnessing the high numbers [of unemployment] we thought we would yet because the kiwifruit season is just coming to a close but we were hoping those workers can step sideways into these jobs that are being created."

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The Ōpōtiki funding is part of the $12.55m that will go towards work throughout the Bay of Plenty, expected to create 291 jobs in the region.

Overall, the Provincial Growth Fund is made up of $27.2m for local roading projects, $26m for rail projects and nearly $6.8m for the Ministry of Social Development to support workers into training to take up these jobs.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the funding announcement meant at least 800 New Zealanders most in need of employment due to the economic effects of Covid-19 could be employed in their own communities.

"Workers throughout New Zealand have been significantly impacted by the economic impacts of Covid-19," he said.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. Photo / File
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. Photo / File

"This latest investment is in addition to the $100m earmarked for worker redeployment, of which $28m has already been allocated to Tairawhiti, $6.2m nationally for forestry workers, and $36.7m to other regions hard hit by the effects of Covid-19."