Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today in Gisborne an investment of $17.27m into bringing “world-leading” food-growing technology and the creation of more than 100 new jobs in the East Coast city.
The funding comes from the Provincial Growth Fund, and included a $15 million loan to LeaderBrand, a Gisborne-grown food company. The Minister said the investment into the company was vital for the local economy.
“Our support for LeaderBrand will help them build large greenhouses that produce salad vegetables throughout the year and boost production from their salad processing plant,” he said.
“The $15m loan from the PGF will support existing capacity and employment, with the new greenhouses expected to add another 50 jobs throughout the company once the plant is running at full capacity.”
“Their vision for the future is to make Gisborne the New Zealand capital for fresh produce. This is a vision built on the natural advantages of a region that will drive strong growth for local businesses, as well as higher wages and more jobs,” the Minister added.
The loan will help LeaderBrand build greenhouses on 30 hectares of land, which will protect crops against severe weather while reducing environmental impacts for water and fertilizer use.
A further $2.3 million was invested in jobs and training package for local residents. Almost $1 million would be used to help Eastland Wood Council’s Tairawhiti Road Transport – Recruitment and Training Project train up to 80 truck drivers for the region’s freight transport, forestry and agriculture sectors.
“With the current shortage of drivers predicted to increase, this programme is vital to make sure the region has access to skilled labour, while also improving the employment prospects of local people,” Minister Jones said.
Tairawhiti Rural Education Activities Programme/REAP’s GDL2 Mahi driver licensing programme will receive $697,000.
“This funding will scale up an existing programme and train 300 people in rural Tairawhiti over the next two years for restricted, defensive driving and full licences, meanwhile helping people find work,” Employment Minister Willie Jackson said.
Other programmes approved to receive funding were Gisborne Development Incorporated’s Rangatahi Pathways to Trades ($425,000), Eastland Wood Council’s Generation Programme ($90,000), and Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust ($63,000).