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Provincial Growth Fund reset with $600m to help economy recover

To help communities rebuild in the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government's provincial growth fund has been reset with an estimated $600 million to be dished out.

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Regional Development Minister Shane Jones announced $600 million funding for various projects on Sunday. Source: 1 NEWS

The cash injection into the fund comes from repurposing the exsisting provincial growth fund money, as well as collecting unallocated funds from the regional investment opportunities contingency. 

The three key aims for the funding are to boost employment, allow projects to get started as soon as possible and to instill confidence in Kiwis that the "social and economic recovery" are underway. 

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says the funding aims to create new jobs to support people and industries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We want to make sure our investments will create immediate redeployment and new employment opportunities and income growth to help those communities and sectors most affected by the Covid-19 crisis," he says. 

New projects supported by the PGF aim to start as soon as possible to help boost local economies with plans to stop projects if they are seen to be under-performing so that the funds can be reallocated into other areas.

The first collection of projects were announced by Mr Jones today, which are expected to create hundreds more jobs around the country. 

Waterway fencing, riparian planting and stock water reticulation projects will receive $100 million which will be used to help encourage farmers to fence off streams and rivers from stock. 

Meanwhile road and rail projects have been given $60 million and will be allocated across the Bay of Plenty, Manawatū-Whanganui, West Coast, Wairarapa, Taranaki, Waikato and the top of the South Island. 

At least 600 jobs will be formed around the country to help will the construction of footpaths, cycleways and playgrounds, as well as vegetation management and roadside clearing, Mr Jones says, adding that the rail projects alone are likely to create a further 200 jobs to support the maintenance of rail ways around the country. 

A maximum of $70 million has been promised to help upgrade marae, town halls, war memorials and Pasifika churches. 

"Renovating these buildings will provide work for local tradies and contractors while regular building and repair work is on hold," Mr Jones says. 

He says the funding provides an opportunity to support Pasifika, Māori and other vulnerable workers who can't secure jobs. The cash injection will help to cover salaries and building costs for the upgrades.  

A further $7.5 million has been given to the PGF to support a further four projects to help regions recover from Covid-19's impact. 

Apollo Foods Ltd in Hawke's Bay will receive $2.9 million to support the upskilling of workers and to fund new technology in order to increase productivity and capability.

Another $2.5 million will go towards upgrading Raglan Wharf to improve access for commercial operators and visitors to the area. 

Westport's waterfront is in for a revamp with $1.86 million dedicated to building a pedestrian and cycle bridge from the town centre to the river front. 

Te Pari, an engineering firm in Otago, has been given $209,500 to purchase equipment to improve capacity to supply the farming industry with equipment to handle livestock.