Regional Infrastructure Fund
The Regional Infrastructure Fund was set up 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.
The first funding round took place in 2013 and up to $40.5 million funding was allocated 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.
You can read more about these projects below.
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.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council signed a Funding Agreement with Scion in April 2014 which sets out the conditions and obligations for the Regional Infrastructure Fund contribution.
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 two 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 2020; and stage two, a second building on the campus by 2039.
Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT) is also contributing $15 million towards stage one, and Tauranga City Council (TCC) is gifting Durham Street land for stage one. Bay of Plenty Regional Council signed a Heads of Agreement in May 2015 with TECT, TCC and University of Waikato (on behalf of the Tertiary Education Partnership) which sets out the conditions and obligations for receiving the funding commitments.
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 $10 million Marine Precinct project will create a purpose-built marine servicing facility and related infrastructure at Sulphur Point. Up to $5 million of this funding will come from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Regional Infrastructure Fund as a grant. Tauranga City Council’s contribution of $5 million is to be offset by the sale of properties on and near the site.
Tauranga City and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council have signed a heads of agreement that defines the main conditions and obligations for the up to $5 million Regional Infrastructure Fund investment in the Tauranga Marine Precinct project.
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 Opotiki Harbour Transformation Project. Funding is also being sought from central government, and construction is scheduled to start in 2018/19.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Opotiki District Council signed a Heads of Agreement in January 2015, which sets out the conditions and obligations for the Regional Infrastructure Fund contributions. As part of its Long Term Plan 2015-25, Regional Council allocated a further $2 million to the Opotiki Harbour Transformation Project, bringing its total funding commitment to $20 million.
Council is reviewing its infrastructure funding policy which covers the Regional Infrastructure Fund and direct funding grants for sewerage and transport projects. Council has allocated more than $50 million over the next five years towards infrastructure grants.
Questions about the Regional Infrastructure Fund
How will the fund 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 Long Term Plans (formerly 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.
How does spending $40m on infrastructure fit with the new purpose of the Local Government Act 2002?
Section 10 of 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 independently assessed as providing the greatest economic benefit for the funding provided.