FIVE applications have been sent the Government’s way as Southland authorities team up in an attempt to tap into Shane Jones’ stack of cash.
Mr Jones is the minister in charge of the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, which has provided the regions with a $3 billion fund to utilise over the next three years.
The fund is available for regions outside the metropolitan areas, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.
As of last month almost 300 applications, or expressions of interest, had poured in and close to $130 million had already been dished out.
Mr Jones and Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters visited Southland recently and provided a clear message to the province’s leaders. That message was to hurry up and get their own funding applications in.
“We can only work as fast as the business leaders and civic leaders are willing to travel,” Mr Jones said.
“I can promise you one thing, irrespective of the pace Southland moves at, every cent put aside in the coalition agreement, equalling $3b, will be committed by the next election. So please Southland leaders, Southland identities, my advice is: don’t let this opportunity slip.”
Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell asked the pair at the dinner event if they would prefer to wait until Southland leaders had a “robust” application sorted or whether they should simply proceed with what information they had.
Mr Peters encouraged them to get on with it and apply.
“A lot of these things are seasonal. If it’s development it depends on the right weather, so now is the time. It is the middle of winter now, get going as fast as you can,” Mr Peters told the Southland Express after the dinner.
Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson confirmed this week that five applications had now been sent away as Southland collectively stated its case for a piece of that funding pie.
The Provincial Growth Fund is available to support regional projects, sector development targeted at priority and/or high-value economic opportunities, and infrastructure to enable regions to be well connected from an economic and social perspective, including rail, road and communications.
Individuals, non-government organisations, iwi, companies and charities can all apply to the Provincial Growth Fund.
All New Zealand companies, including those that are foreign owned, may be eligible if they are looking to make investments in New Zealand.
Mr Casson indicated it was a united front in terms of applications lodged by Southland organisations and was in line with the previously outlined Southland Regional Growth Strategy.
The applications already lodged were for a wide range of projects, he said.
Mr Casson was expecting some more detail around the Provincial Growth Fund to be released today and he should then be in a better position to talk through where Southland was at with its applications.
HWCP Management Ltd, the organisation behind the city’s new CBD retail precinct, has previously indicted it would look at the Provincial Fund Growth fund as a possible equity opportunity for the project.
At the same time, the Southland Museum & Art Gallery is investigating a museum redevelopment, the Invercargill Licensing Trust plans to build a $40m hotel, and the Invercargill City Council wants to develop an Arts and Creativity Centre.
Awarua Research and Developments are still investigating the prospect of Oyster World attraction in Bluff with the Provincial Growth Fund providing a potential funding opportunity.
Venture Southland has also researched oat growing in Southland as a potential growth industry for the province.