The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest NZ$500,000 in the Far East Saw Mill in Tairawhiti to increase wood processing capacity and get local people into jobs, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced on Friday.
The total cost to recommission the Mill is just over NZ$3.6 million, with the rest of the funding coming from the Eastland Community Trust and the Far East Saw Mill Limited.
“Currently only four per cent of raw logs are milled in Tairawhiti, but there’s potential for that to increase by up to 25 per cent, which will add an estimated NZ$120 million annually to the region,” Shane Jones said.
“Forestry is a significant economic driver in Tairawhiti and we want to make sure the region is able to take full advantage of the opportunities the sector provides. Today’s announcement will help ensure that any future increases can be managed locally.
“Funding from the PGF will also help speed up the Mill’s production capacity, which is currently only operating at 10 per cent, while also returning 50 jobs to the local economy. This will lead to higher value forestry products being produced and more money going back into the community via pay packets for local workers,” Shane Jones said.
The Far East Saw Mill is a key component of the Wood Processing Centre of Excellence which aims to be a hub for wood processing, wood products, marketing and distribution, and training and research. The Centre received PGF funding earlier this year for the development of a business case.
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