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$6.1m boost for Wairoa

PGF funding for business, tourism opportunities

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing up to $6.1 million to revitalise business and tourism opportunities in Wairoa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.

The PGF will provide up to $4.8m for the Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility, up to $960,000 for the Wairoa Digital Employment Programme (funded through Te Ara Mahi, the PGF's skills and training allocation) and $400,000 for the Wairoa Regional Digital Hub.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said this morning the funding was “huge” for Wairoa.

“It's fabulous news, this has been a long time coming. There's so much work been done behind the scenes to make this happen.”

Mr Tabuteau said the projects would encourage more businesses and visitors into the main town and create better employment opportunities for local people.

“The Wairoa District Council will develop the Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility and the Wairoa Regional Digital Hub. The Korou Digital Agency, set up by the Korou Digital Charitable Trust, will deliver the Wairoa Digital Employment Programme.

“Wairoa has a unique community and this funding will transform two centrally-located, under-utilised buildings by concentrating economic activity such as the visitor centre, start-up tenants, Rocket Lab education centre and a potential showcase for local food and beverages in a prime location in the township.

“The Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility is expected to deliver benefits to the Wairoa community through attracting and supporting local businesses and start-ups to the township, increasing employment potential and diversifying economic activities,” Mr Tabuteau said.

It was also expected to attract passing traffic and increase visitor spending across all businesses.

The Wairoa Digital Employment Programme would develop digital capability through training programmes for local people who want a future career in the digital sector and will help grow better opportunities within the high-skilled, high-waged sector.

“The programmes will provide 12 weeks of paid digital and technology-based industry training, including software engineering, programming application and game development followed by 40 weeks employment as a digital apprentice with at least 48 participants expected to enrol in the first two years.”

Funding would also be used to develop the Wairoa Regional Digital Hub, a facility that would provide better internet connectivity to individuals, small businesses and corporates.

“The Hub will be used for training, mentoring and business advisory with workshops to upskill business or IT related activity.

“Not everyone has access to the internet in Wairoa so this Hub will also have huge benefits for individuals in the community,” he said.

Mr Little said the funding was huge for the community because there were two parts to it — the CBD enhancement as well as the Korou Digital Agency.

“It's a big community thing,” Mr Little said. “We've had the CBD (enhancement) on the books for ages but we haven't been able to do it because we can't afford it.

“To get a grant and not a loan it's just amazing. This government has really looked after Wairoa in the way it comes down and really does its bit.”

See also today's editorial here.