By REBECCA DEVINE in Rotorua
A major funding venture has been announced by the Rotorua District Council to help launch several projects - including Rotorua's $21 million events centre and a possible national mountainbiking centre.
The Rotorua Partners' Programme will see businesses and other community organisations work with the council to put money into a pool for new developments.
The identity of the developments remains under wraps but The Daily Post understands they include a major national mountainbiking centre.
The partnership programme has three categories of partners - foundation partners, corporate partners and project partners.
Prominent Rotorua business Red Stag Timber Ltd yesterday became the scheme's first "foundation partner" - after announcing a donation of $500,000.
The company is one of Rotorua's largest private employers.
The programme was announced on the same day that the council gave approval for the construction of the Rotorua Energy Events Centre to go ahead.
The centre is expected to have a direct economic impact on the district of almost $24 million in the first year it is open and create up to 350 new jobs.
Red Stag has also agreed to provide "support in kind" for other community projects which are still being finalised.
Council chief executive Peter Guerin said the exact amount of Red Stag's donation that would go towards the events centre was not being released for commercial reasons.
However, it is understood to be half the amount donated.
The remainder will go towards the mountainbiking centre.
Red Stag's donation provides another boost to funding for the centre which is going to cost substantially more than first expected.
At yesterday's finance and strategic planning committee meeting, Mr Guerin confirmed the centre would now cost $21 million.
It was previously expected to cost about $16 million.
Red Stag's donation will see the company get naming identification for "some appropriate part" of the Energy Events Centre.
With the funding from Red Stag - combined with the $2 million announced last week from the Bay of Plenty Community Trust, Unison and the Southern Trust, the committee decided to attack the project in a "two-phase" manner.
Phase one involves calling tenders for the construction of the first stage of the complex.
Money for that has already been secured, and includes $10 million from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and $4 million from the Rotorua District Council.
The second phase - which will be tendered out once further funding is secured - includes fitting out the facility with carpet, tiered seating and plunge pools.
It is hoped the tendering process will open next April or May.
Architects have entered the project's final design phase and a resource consent application is expected to be lodged today.
Latest designs include a strong cultural influence with ideas that include ancestral trails on the building's ceilings.
The centre is expected to be completed early in 2006.
By REBECCA DEVINE in Rotorua