Hon. Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is ramping up support for Tairāwhiti’s wood processing sector to bolster the region’s economy at a time of heightened uncertainty, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.
Following earlier announcements today of a regional support package for Tairāwhiti, Minister Jones has also announced a $12.1 million loan from the PGF for WET Gisborne Ltd.
The funding will accelerate the development of WET Gisborne Ltd’s wood processing production line, which will produce a laminated structural wood product at the Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence located in Gisborne.
“I’m pleased we’ve been able to work alongside the region on projects that will help diversify the forestry sector, which is overly reliant on log exports to China,” Shane Jones said.
“This investment is another way the Government is supporting Gisborne and the wider region as the forestry industry experiences the effects of Covid-19. The PGF support will allow construction to begin on the production line and is part of a wider focus on wood processing that is expected to create 74 new jobs in coming months.
“Work is about to begin on the first phase of the production line that will increase capacity from 3.5 days per week to a 24hr/7days-a-week operation. The second phase, which will establish New Zealand’s first fully commercial scale line, will start next summer,” Shane Jones said.
In addition to the loan, Regional Economic Development Ministers have also approved a $980,000 loan towards the Wood Cluster Heat Plant, which is integral to the overall success of the region’s wood processing aspirations.
“Wood processing is one of the biggest economic growth opportunities in Tairāwhiti. This production line will lead to higher-value forestry products being produced locally and develop new economic growth in the forestry industry.
“The engineering work required to build the processing line and heat plant will ensure job continuity for local engineering firms.
“This latest investment builds on a commitment of $19.5 million investment in to the Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence announced in July last year. The centre will process and produce higher-value forestry products and see more money going back into the community via bigger pay packets for local workers.
“While New Zealand and the world is experiencing an economic shock, PGF projects are primed to help place the country on an excellent footing post–virus,” Shane Jones said.
Notes to editors:
The project applicant is WET Gisborne Ltd – a joint venture between Trust Tairāwhiti (formerly Eastland Community Trust Ltd) and Wood Engineering Technology.
Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated. Some funding may depend on completion of business cases. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.