Invercargill has received a $19.5 million Provincial Growth Fund boost as part of a multi-million development scheme for the city.
It comes as Air New Zealand launches a new direct service between Auckland and the region tonight.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon is on this evening’s flight along with Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt.
“It’s terrific to get our new direct service between Auckland and Invercargill up and running and have some VIPs onboard to mark the occasion with us," said Mr Luxon.
Meanwhile, Minister for Regional Economic Development, Shane Jones made the funding boost announcement today.
"Our investment, which will be in the form of a loan, is part of a $165 million project to redevelop an entire block in the Invercargill city centre for retail, hospitality, office space and entertainment," he said.
Today’s funding follows an initial investment of $995,000 in December towards a business case, feasibility study, concept designs and procurement strategies.
"The business case shows the project could boost Southland’s real GDP by around $48 million per year while creating more than 500 jobs during the construction phase and a further 300 retail and hospitality jobs once the redevelopment is complete," Mr Jones said.
"These results would be an absolute game-changer for Invercargill and the wider region. With the help of the Provincial Growth Fund, the redevelopment is an opportunity to attract businesses and shoppers back to the central city and put vacant or abandoned buildings back into use.
“The redevelopment has been identified as a key project in the Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan, and is being led by key local players including the Invercargill City Council," Mr Jones said.