The Provincial Growth Fund is boosting growth in the Bay of Plenty, with funding for digital connectivity and progress in a significant aquaculture project.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones today announced a $400,000 Provincial Growth Fund grant for a regional digital hub in Ōpōtiki.

Shane Jones made the announcement while attending the blessing of the site of the new Whakatōea Mussels Ōpōtiki Ltd (WMOL) processing facility. Construction on the facility, which has been supported financially by the PGF, will begin shortly.

“Connectivity is an essential part of doing business while lifting regional productivity, economic development and the wellbeing of communities. I’m pleased to see the PGF funding a regional digital hub for Ōpōtiki which will be open for local people and visitors to use,” Shane Jones said.

“The regional digital hub will be easily accessible to the community, with plans to open the facility at a temporary site next month before moving into Ōpōtiki District Council’s new public library once its construction has finished. The hub will offer digital services such as Wi-Fi, video conferencing and hot desks, and will connect the community to work, training, mentoring and business opportunities.

“This funding comes from the PGF’s $100 million commitment to digital connectivity, with $20m set aside for getting marae online and establishing regional digital hubs. The PGF is making good progress with getting regional communities online and I’m pleased we can now add Ōpōtiki to a growing list,” Shane Jones said.

“This funding comes as we mark the blessing of the new Whakatōhea mussel factory site, where construction is about to start thanks to a $19.85m PGF investment I announced in December 2018. We recognise that aquaculture provides one of the biggest opportunities for the Eastern Bay of Plenty to transform its economy, and I’m pleased to see diggers onsite ready to start work.

“This is in addition to my recent announcement of $79.4m from the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme for Ōpōtiki’s harbour development (Te Ara Moana a Toi – A Path to the Sea) to support the growth of aquaculture.

“This will enable significant aquaculture initiatives in the region to get underway and be a catalyst for private investment in marine-related industries, wharves and a residential development,” Shane Jones said.