Southland to get $2.4m in Government funding as SoRDs plan announced video

JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

Southland Regional Development Strategy launch of the SoRDS action plan at the Bill Richardson Transport World on Wednesday in Invercargill.

Southland is to receive $2.4m in funding from the Government as part of the Southland Regional Development Strategy.

The strategy's aim is to increase Southland's population by 10,000 people in the next decade by implementing a multi-faceted action plan.

The action plan was launched in front of 500 people at the Bill Richardson Truck Museum in Invercargill on Wednesday, with the government pledging more than $2.4 million in funding to Southland to boost education, the primary sector, aquaculture, and tourism.

Nicole Johnstone/ Fairfax NZ

SoRDS team leaders speak about the group's action plan which was unveiled on Wednesday morning.

Steven Joyce, as minister for tertiary education, skills and employment, and Nathan Guy, as minister for primary industries, announced the funding during the official launch.

Joyce, speaking afterwards, said more government funding would follow as the plan unfolded in coming years but private sector investment would play a big part in the plan's success. 

"A lot of these early projects are about identifying early opportunities and out of that will come other things to invest [in]," he said. 

Nicole Johnstone/ Fairfax NZ

Southland mayors and Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell speak about the SoRDS action plan.

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The Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan was developed by the Southland Regional Development Strategy Governance Group and is supported by the government's Regional Growth Programme, which aims to increase jobs, incomes and investment in regional New Zealand.

Local and central government, businesses and iwi worked together to develop the plan, which was informed by the Southland Regional Development Strategy, published by the Southland Mayoral Forum in 2015.

The Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan is being launched at Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill.
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/FAIRFAX NZ

The Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan is being launched at Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill.

Implementation of the plan will be led by the Southland Regional Development Strategy Governance Group, with individual actions co-ordinated and led by different groups and agencies.

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$950,000 for aquaculture

The most significant funding package of $950,000 was for aquaculture, a key focus of the action plan, which aims to diversify Southland's economy, grow the population, and strengthen local business.

The Southland Regional Development Strategy aims to boost education, the primary sector, aquaculture, and tourism.
NICOLE JOHNSTONE

The Southland Regional Development Strategy aims to boost education, the primary sector, aquaculture, and tourism.

Joyce said Southland's climate and ocean conditions lent themselves to sustainable and efficient production of high quality seafood, and there was a "great opportunity" to build and internationally competitive industry that would create a range of skilled, non-seasonable jobs for the region.

While the government had already contributed $200,000 to scientific surveys to identify areas for finfish aquaculture, a further $750,000 would be made available to find further scientific and social research to determine the environmental and cultural suitability of sites around Stewart Island, he said.

Guy said marine farming technologies were advancing, which would help Southland diversify.

"This is an opportunity that will require collaboration across central and local government, support from the local community and private investment."

$520,000 for primary sector

With an aim to increase beef and sheep productivity, and to foster collaboration and accelerate adoption of good water management practice among all land users, Joyce announced a further $520,000 in funding for Southland's primary sector.

"Agriculture is well-established in Southland and is the largest contributor to the region's GDP.

"The key to strengthening the regional economy will be [to] diversify land use and find innovative and sustainable ways to lift productivity."

In October, AgResearch announced they would invest $5m of government funding in the Southern Dairy Hub, a new research and demonstration farm.

Guy said as part of the action plan, the government will provide $220,000 to sustainably increase beef and sheep productivity through a programme that will develop the skills and capacity of farmers and promote the uptake of improved farming systems and practices.

A further $300,000 will be contributed to the development and delivery of Southland's People, Water and Land Strategy to maintain and improve freshwater quality.

The strategy is to foster collaboration and accelerate adoption of good water management practice among all land users.

Teams made up of recreational users, farmers, and representatives from Environment Southland and community groups will manage Southland's priority catchments through joint work programmes.

"The major primary industries may soon be constrained by environmental limits, so implementing a water strategy that has buy-in from sector groups is a priority for the region, with wide-ranging benefits."

$440,000 for international education and skills training

In order to help achieve the Southland Regional Development Strategy's goal of increasing the region's population, the action plan aims to bring in an additional 3500 students by 2025.

Joyce said $300,000 would be provided to the new Southern Education Alliance, a group representing education providers who will look to draw more international students to the area.

"Southland is short of working age people. This initiative will focus on attracting adult students with young families to complete post graduate qualifications and take up jobs in the region," he said.

The new Youth Futures programme, which aims to build Southland's primary sector skill base will receive $140,000 in funding.

$510,000 for tourism industry

Despite tourism growth in New Zealand, Southland has experienced a lower growth rate than seen in most other parts of the country.

Because of this, associate minister for tourism Paula Bennett and Joyce announced $510,000 of funding for the region's tourism industry.

It includes:

  • $250,000 to support the Milford Opportunities Project
  • $80,000 for a feasibility study for Bluff Oyster World
  • $130,000 towards development of the Southland Destination Strategy
  • $50,000 towards market insights research and development of the Southland Story

The Milford Opportunities Project involves key players in the local tourism industry, including businesses, Southland District Council, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the NZ Transport Agency, and the Department of Conservation.

Working with the Awarua runanga, the government is assessing the feasibility of a possible attraction to leverage off Bluff's most famous delicacy. The Bluff Oyster World Feasibility study will build the concept in detail.

Joyce said Southland's destination strategy would define the region as a tourist destination and drive a cohesive marketing approach.

It would also identify tourism products required to meet visitor demand and include analysis of the infrastructure required to support the industry.

"The destination strategy will be aligned with the Southland Story. Like the New Zealand story, this will be a brand framework and set of resources, informed by market research, that will help drive attraction of visitors, migrants and students to the region," he said.

 

 

 - Stuff

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