Coronavirus: $48 million being pumped into regional economy through Provincial Growth Fund

Water storage and horticulture projects are the main beneficiaries of $48 million in loans being granted through the Provincial Growth Fund to offset COVID-19's economic damage.

Nine initiatives are being given loans, including a water storage project from Raukokore River Water ($10.6 million), the revitalisation of the Whakatāne riverfront by the Whakatāne District Council and Ngati Awa for ($9.6 million) and the Hineuru Iwi Trust's cherry orchard development ($4.3 million).

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has been eyeing up projects that will provide a quick boost to the regional economy, under pressure due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While this Government has responded quickly to the need for short- and medium-term support for Kiwis, businesses and industry, we are also working on a comprehensive long-term economic recovery package," Jones said on Thursday.

"Finalising these Provincial Growth Fund loans and getting this much-needed capital into the regions over the next few months will aid longer-term economic stability and create sustainable jobs in the regions."

He said the pandemic - which has severely affected global trade and tourism, while also prompting border closures and a nationwide shutdown - had been a "devastating blow for some regions and sectors".

"These projects are going to make a real social and economic difference in their communities. Our regions will play a large role in the recovery of our economy and we need to channel every dollar of PGF funding we can into supporting them and the communities within them," Jones said.

The minister has previously confirmed that some PGF money will be repurposed towards projects that can support economic recovery.

"A number of the projects have taken a long time to gather momentum and obviously there is no point leaving the pūtea (money) in the bank account while people are in Strugglers Gully at work," he told Newshub in March.

The Provincial Development Unit (PDU) is currently assessing applications.

Recipients of the loans totalling $48.4 million:

  • Raukokore River Water Ltd, water storage project - $10.6m
  • Wai o Kaha Gold JV Ltd Partnership, kiwifruit orchard development - $5m
  • Wairarapa Water Limited, community water storage - $7m
  • Whakatāne District Council and Ngati Awa, Whakatāne riverfront revitalisation - $9.6m
  • Te Rahui Lands Trust, Ngati Awa Group Holdings and Whakātane District Council - $4.7m
  • Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea Trust, Awanui water storage project (Far North) - $3m
  • Hineuru Iwi Trust - Hineuru cherry orchard development - $4.3m
  • Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Tukituki water storage development phase - $2.5m
  • Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Heretaunga Plains water storage development phase - $1.7m

Some of the loans will be paid in tranches and through ongoing payments subject to meeting key milestones.