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Billion dollar milestone for regional economies

A significant milestone in support to the regions has been passed with more than one billion dollars pumped into economic development projects to back local jobs and businesses.

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash says the Provincial Development Unit has now invested $1.26 billion in regional projects since 2018, working alongside councils, iwi, businesses, primary producers and community groups.

"The PDU looks after eight distinct funds and manages more than 1,700 projects worth $4.460 billion across the country," Nash says. "It is central to our COVID19 recovery plans which prioritise infrastructure, jobs and businesses.

"Each region in New Zealand faces its own set of challenges, be it tourism infrastructure or water storage, skills training or airports, digital connectivity or marae development. The PDU was established to overcome the growing disparity between regions and major cities.

"Northland, where the need is great, tops the list for regional projects, at $298 million, followed by the Bay of Plenty with more than $176 million and Tairawhiti with $105 million.

"Across the various sectors, tourism, skills training, forestry, rail and road projects make up the top five for government support in partnership with local communities and agencies.

"The PDU manages $558 million in tourism related projects and has paid out $169 million so far around the country. In training and employment projects $497 million has been committed, with $129 million paid out.

"In forestry $438 million is committed with $94 million paid out. Other sectors prioritised for support are small-scale water storage, aquaculture, agriculture, manufacturing and engineering, digital connectivity, energy, and airports.

"The PDU also recently had its first loan to a horticulture business in Northland paid back in full a little over a year since $2.28 million loan was taken out.

"The PDU is getting support to the regions where it is most needed. The one billion dollar milestone indicates that hundreds of projects the PDU manages are on track and that the full economic and social potential of our regions can be realised.

"Projects are at different stages of implementation, and will take time to come to fruition, so the full benefits are realised. Some of these initiatives will be real game-changers for their area and the communities that live there," Nash says.

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