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Funding decision game changer for regional economy

Funding decision game changer for regional economy

MEDIA RELEASE: Friday 25 July 2014. Economic development organisation, Priority One, is thrilled with yesterday’s announcement by the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust to provide a funding contribution of $15 million towards the proposed tertiary and research precinct in Tauranga’s city centre.

The new campus is seen as crucial to lifting the Bay of Plenty’s economic performance. It will also provide the four tertiary institutions with a central base to work together and with businesses and organisations from around the region. The campus will have a focus on regional innovation and entrepreneurship, and be recognised both nationally and internationally as a hub for teaching, learning and research. It would see nearly 6500 students commencing studies in Tauranga between 2015 and 2035 and result in more than 4000 graduates.

Andrew Coker, Priority One’s Chief Executive, says “This is a crucial step closer to the realisation of a unique tertiary and research campus in Tauranga’s city centre. We are so fortunate to have a community trust so clearly committed to economic development. The establishment of a tertiary and research campus aligned with regional needs will deliver a step change to our economy.”

The development of a university campus experience in the city centre has been a key area of focus for Priority One and SmartGrowth in recent years. The tertiary and research campus will cost $88.8 million in total and is being developed by the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Partnership, comprising the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, University of Waikato and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, based in Whakatane.

Andrew says “This partnership is unique to New Zealand and will provide long term benefits that will play a critical role in supporting sustainable regional economic development. The city centre campus development is a key project to enable the University of Waikato to grow to scale in the Bay of Plenty, providing student pathways to higher education. Today’s announcement will also assist the region develop applied research to support industry and economic growth.”

Tauranga City Council is a strong supporter of the project and will gift land in Durham Street for the development and delivery of tertiary education. In addition, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has committed up to $15 million in funding from the Regional Infrastructure Fund for the new campus, subject to conditions. The total cost of the development will be $88.8 million, with the balance of $58.8 million provided by the University of Waikato. The development will roll out in two stages with the first stage construction set to be completed in 2018.

The new campus is predicted to generate $133 million in regional revenue and provide over 600 new jobs. It will also significantly revitalise the city centre and will strengthen the business case for other projects such as the development of an international hotel and conference centre, as well as student accommodation. A recent economic impact report prepared by the University of Waikato showed that the tertiary campus will be worth $187 million in 20 years’ time, providing a rate of return of more than 30 percent on the initial investment.

ENDS

PRIORITY ONE

Priority One‘s activities cover Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty. The organisation was established by the business community and receives a significant part of its funding from business membership, making it a unique structure for an economic development organisation in New Zealand. It is also contracted to deliver economic outcomes by Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District councils.


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