Government funding boost set to transform Invercargill CBD

Southland is set to receive almost $2 million from the Government with around half going towards an inner city development project in Invercargill. 

The $1.9 million boost comes from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) overseen by New Zealand First MP and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. 

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau made the announcement on Wednesday, saying Southland will receive a boost to its economy through the package. 

"These announcements demonstrate the PGF's focus on projects with potential to spark economic growth and create jobs in the Southland region," he said. 

The PGF funding will go towards:

  • $995,000 for Invercargill inner-city development
  • $424,900 for a Southland salmon and mussel hatchery and nursery
  • $490,000 for sheep and goat industry resources

The almost $1 million boost to Invercargill is part of the Inner-City Development project - a redevelopment of the city to "bring life and vitality to the CBD". 

The funding will support stage two of the project, says Mr Tabuteau, "ensuring it is robust enough to attract future investment, and deliver infrastructure that is resilient and sustainable". 

When stage two is complete - which will include concept designs and a business case - the project will begin to take shape with more restaurants, offices and entertainment venues planned to be built. 

This, it's hoped, will increase Invercargill's population of around 54,800. 

An artist's impression of Invercargill's CBD revived.
An artist's impression of Invercargill's CBD revived. Photo credit: HWCP

Funding is also going towards aquaculture, which is "identified as one of the region's biggest economic opportunities," says Mr Tabuteau. The $424,900 boost will go towards a land-based commercial hatchery to produce salmon and mussels. 

"This has the potential to unlock over $400 million in export earnings and over 500 jobs for the region," said Mr Tabuteau, adding that the proposed hatchery will address a predicted shortage of young salmon. 

It's hoped the new facilities will upskill Southland people through developing and operating the hatchery technology and breeding programmes. It's also expected to attract higher skilled labour, from researchers through to production roles. 

The final financial boost will go towards Southland's sheep milk industry. 

An investment of $490,000 with FoodSouth will go towards developing a business case to identify export opportunities, ways to meet potential demand, and consider best locations for processing plants. 

"Sheep and goat dairying is an emerging industry with significant potential driven by high consumer demand for environmentally sustainable, alternative milk products," said Mr Tabuteau. 

"Sheep milk farming exists in pockets around the country, particularly in Southland, but this project will assess the economic viability of developing a nationwide industry."

The three areas receiving funding from the PGF all align with the Southland Regional Development Strategy, led by the Southland Mayoral Forum, Mr Tabuteau said. 

"It's great to see the PGF's involvement in all three projects which demonstrate exciting opportunities to develop Southland's high value industries, and the revitalisation of Invercargill."

Spending of the PGF has been a contentious issue, with National's Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith accusing Mr Jones of "clear politicisation" of the fund, which was granted $3 billion over three years to enhance regional economic development.

He accused the New Zealand First MP of favouring Northland in his spending of it, to which Mr Jones said Mr Goldsmith "doesn't believe in provincial development".  

Newshub revealed last month that Mr Jones signed off on millions of dollars of PGF funding despite the Treasury warning him against it.