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Regional Infrastructure Fund

The Regional Infrastructure Fund has been established to promote sustainable regional economic development, and promote environmental protection and enhancement that supports sustainable regional economic development in the Bay of Plenty.

Media Release: Employment, education, opportunity the focus of Regional Council funding

August 2013: Bay of Plenty Regional Council has allocated $40.5 million to infrastructure projects that will create employment and education opportunities across the region – with no impact on rates in coming years.

“Regional Council created the Regional Infrastructure Fund several years ago, through sale of perpetual preference shares in Quayside Holdings, our investment vehicle for our majority ownership of the Port of Tauranga,” said Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod.

“We’ve retained our 54.9 percent ownership of the Port, but also released value for infrastructure funding. The Council is committed to supporting economic growth in this region”, she said.

A new Innovation Centre at Rotorua’s Scion Innovation Park, a shared tertiary CBD campus and a Harbour Marine Precinct in Tauranga, and the proposed Ōpōtiki Harbour Transformation Project will all benefit from the Regional Infrastructure Fund, she said.

“These projects have the potential to deliver considerable employment, education, and other opportunities for our region,” she said.

The Scion Innovation Centre will be a hub for research and development firms in the forestry and wood sectors, creating cluster of like-minded businesses for collaboration and innovation. Council has allocated up to $2.5 million to this project.

The Tauranga shared tertiary campus will create opportunities for and provide better access to tertiary education for the Bay of Plenty’s young people, attract young people from outside our region to come here to study; provide a research and development hub; give young people skills needed in the local economy. Council has allocated up to $15 million to this project.

The Marine Precinct at Sulphur Point will provide purpose-built marine servicing facilities and infrastructure, supporting the maritime industry in this sub-region. Council has allocated up to $5 million to this project.

The Opotiki Harbour Transformation Project will enable all-weather, all-tide access into Opotiki Harbour, critical to the success of the eastern Bay’s growing aquaculture industry and its potential to provide local jobs and business opportunities. Council has allocated up to $18 million to this project.

“Congratulations to all the successful projects,” Ms Macleod said. “Our staff are now working with the successful applicants to progress contractual requirements, and we expect the projects to come ‘on stream’ over the next few years.”

 

About the Fund

What is the Regional Infrastructure Fund?

A contestable fund to support and promote economic development in the Bay of Plenty. The Fund is a commitment we made in the Regional Council’s Ten-Year-Plan 2012-22.

Who secured funding in this round?

The 2013 Regional Infrastructure Fund will award a total of $40.5 million funding for:

  • An Innovation Centre at Scion’s Innovation Park in Rotorua
  • A shared tertiary campus in Tauranga
  • A Marine Precinct for Tauranga City
  • The Ōpōtiki Harbour Transformation.

What will these projects achieve for the Bay of Plenty?

Scion Innovation Centre

The planned Innovation Centre will be a shared space for growing businesses and small development teams within Scion’s Innovation Park.

The Centre will seek to attract high-tech businesses that are targeting new markets for forest and wood-derived products and services.

It will be a business and innovation cluster similar to, for example, the Ag-biotech hub at Waikato Innovation Park.

Based on NZIER research, the Scion Innovation Centre could help create thousands of jobs and increase export earnings by up to $1 billion.

The Regional Infrastructure Fund is providing up to $2.5 million towards the Innovation Centre’s construction and fit-out. The project is scheduled for completion in January 2015.

Tauranga shared tertiary campus

Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, and the University of Waikato make up the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership.

The project involves construction of a new, purpose-built shared tertiary campus in the Tauranga CBD.

This will provide more pathways through tertiary education and will attract more young people, particularly Māori, into tertiary education. Attracting young people to the Bay of Plenty is crucial to develop employment, education, and business opportunities.

The project partners estimate that over its three stages of construction, the tertiary shared campus will provide: over $49 million in direct construction expenditures; $47 million in flow-on effects for suppliers and households; an estimated 427 construction jobs, and 272 tertiary operations jobs.

The Regional Infrastructure Fund is providing up to $15 million towards the construction of stage one, a new purpose-built campus by 2016; and stage two, a second building on the campus by 2022.

Marine Precinct at Sulphur Point

This project involves construction of a purpose-built marine servicing facility and related infrastructure at Tauranga’s Sulphur Point.

Tauranga City Council is the project owner and estimates up to 100 jobs could be created by development of a Marine Precinct.

Over the longer term, a Marine Precinct will create significant opportunities for long-term economic development, business and job creation, and will provide a hub for the sub-regional marine sector.

The Regional Infrastructure Fund is providing up to $5 million towards construction. Tauranga City Council will provide $4.2 million through the 2014/15 annual plan, and stage one is scheduled to start in 2014.

Opotiki Harbour Transformation Project

The Opotiki Harbour Transformation Project will create a new harbour infrastructure that enables all weather, all tide access in and out of the harbour. This will be crucial to developing the off-shore aquaculture industry in the eastern Bay.

The Opotiki Harbour Transformation Project aligns with the objectives of the Bay of Plenty aquaculture strategy to be a world class aquaculture region by 2025.

Estimates are that the mussel farm producing 16,000 tonnes of mussels a year would create 236 jobs, and increase GDP by $33.5 million in the sub-region.

The Regional Infrastructure Fund is providing up to $18 million towards the OpotikiHarbour Transformation Project. Money is also being sought from central government, and construction is scheduled to start in 2017/18.

How many applicants were there initially?

We received 47 initial expressions of interest, from which 19 progressed to a full application. The total amount applied for was $126 million.

How will this affect rates in the region?

There is funding allocated in our current Ten Year Plan for regional infrastructure projects and the council doesn't anticipate any additional impact on rates in coming years.

Once negotiations are progressed with the RIF applicants, future Ten Year Plans will address the timing of funding allocations for regional infrastructure. 

This council is financially prudent and Council is confident RIF funding requirements can be successfully managed.

What are the next steps?

We are now working with each of the successful applicants towards Heads of Agreement and Funding Agreements. We will announce when these agreements are in place.

How does spending $40m on infrastructure fit with the new purpose of the Local Government Act 2002?

Section 10 of the The Local Government Act 2002 states that the purpose of local government is to:

  • Enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and to
  • Meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses.

Regional Council is seeking to fulfil this purpose through our contribution to high-quality local infrastructure.  We do this with our direct funding for sewerage and water treatment, and we believe that the four projects chosen for the Regional Infrastructure Fund also help us meet this purpose.

These projects have been expertly assessed as providing the greatest economic benefit for the funding provided.