The Trough Monitor – more servings of a rich gravy from the PGF

The Point of Order Trough Monitor sounded two alerts this morning, both triggered by  pre-Christmas distributions from the Provincial Growth Fund.

But hey – there hasn’t been one Santa Claus.  There have been two.

One chunk of money, headed for the Coromandel, was announced by the usual dispenser of PGF largess, Shane Jones, wearing his hat as Minister of Regional Economic Development.

Perhaps in the spirit of seasonal good will, Jones stepped aside for the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, to enjoy the pleasure that comes from announcing a boost to Southland’s economy.

On second thoughts, perhaps he couldn’t be in two places at once.

Anyway, Tabuteau did a splendid job of declaring PGF support for an Invercargill development project, aquaculture, and sheep and goat dairy initiatives.

The PGF feasibility projects he announced are:

$995,000 for Invercargill inner-city development
$424,900 for Southland hatchery and nursery
$490,000 for sheep and goat industry resources

Funding of the Inner-City Development will support Stage Two of the project, which includes preparing a business case, feasibility study, concept designs and procurement strategies.

The aquaculture project gets an injection of $424,900 to fund a business case to assess the development of a state-of-the art, land-based commercial hatchery to produce salmon smolt and mussel spat.

The third project is a $490,000 investment with FoodSouth to scope further development of the sheep and goat milk industry.

“Sheep milk farming exists in pockets around the country, particularly in Southland, but this project will assess the economic viability of developing a nationwide industry.”

FoodSouth will develop a national business case of the industry to identify export opportunities, estimates required for goat and sheep milk volumes to meet potential demand, and consider the best locations for processing plants.

The report will focus on four products which are considered to have high-value potential: liquids, cheese, butter, and protein powders.

“Southland sheep milk farmers stand to benefit from the information and insights this project will create, including workshops and market research.”

We suppose this is the same FoodSouth which was the subject of this announcement when Callaghan Innovation and Canterbury Development Corporation announced its opening and its purpose.

If it is the same outfit, let’s note that is has been suckled on the teat of public funding:

Canterbury Development Corporation and Callaghan Innovation are providing joint funding of $5.7 million over five years to establish and operate this new facility. Site services and accommodation are being provided by Lincoln University.

Now let’s head for the Coromandel ,  where Jones announced the PGF was investing $924,000 in aquaculture and marine services.

“It makes sense to invest in aquaculture, which has grown by 70 per cent in seven years, has annual sales of $612 million and can drive regional development,” Shane Jones said.

So why isn’t the private sector investing?

Jones says funding into feasibility studies “will help get the planning right to support future aquaculture and marine services”.

The Coromandel beneficiaries are –

Sugarloaf Wharf, Coromandel, $558,000  

Coromandel Marine Gateway, $93,850

Kopu Marine Precinct, Coromandel, $270,000

The potential to expand Sugarloaf Wharf to accommodate growing aquaculture demand is being explored as a first step.

The feasibility of developing a large marine facility at Coromandel Gateway to increase capacity and overall safety for recreational users and ferry and charter boats will be examined.

At Kopu Marine Precinct, the enhancement of marine facilities and supporting services for large locally based boats and barges will be investigated.

Now let’s wait to learn where Jones will next toss our money…

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