A Food Innovation Hub is to be built in Hawke’s Bay, made possible by the latest Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment announced today. The region’s local government leaders welcome the announcement for the funds that will help unlock Hawke’s Bay’s potential in the food, beverage and agri-tech sectors as well as industry training and development. The goals of the PGF are closely aligned with that of the Food Innovation Hub which will provide a venue to foster innovation and collaboration and build industry skills and competency. This is crucial for the regional economy and the creation of employment opportunities to the region. An industry-led governance group, supported by Hawke’s Bay councils, has been working on establishing a Food Innovation Hub for more than two years. A Business Case has estimated the construction and net operating costs will be approximately $18million. With a regional contribution of $6million and the PGF’s investment of $12million, the governance group will be able to secure tenants for the hub and build the facility in Hastings. Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst welcomes the significant Provincial Growth Fund investment in this project, saying the Hastings District Council has led the Food and Innovation Hub project from its inception. “Our council believes the project will support our region’s producers enabling them to adapt, innovate and develop new products, new markets and introduce new technologies that will support everything and everyone in the food industry.” “The Hub will be a ‘Think Tank’ to share ideas and develop new and exciting ways to grow and market our produce.” Acting Napier Mayor Faye White says today’s funding announcement is great news for the region. “An economic impact assessment has indicated the Food Innovation Hub would generate 500 or more full time skilled jobs in the region and contribute more than $100million over 10 years to the regional domestic product which will benefit all of our region.” Alex Walker, Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay, says the huge potential being unlocked by this PGF investment is incredibly exciting. “This is a unique opportunity to establish a Food Innovation Hub facility that will facilitate innovation in our primary sector as we seek higher value products, businesses and employment.” Wairoa Mayor Craig Little also welcomes today’s announcement. “This funding, coupled with the $64million invested by the PGF across Hawke’s Bay in June, shows our region is a priority for the government and this support will go a long way to improve the lives and wellbeing of our whole community.” HB Regional Council Chair Rex Graham says this investment will put Hawke’s Bay at the forefront of food innovation in New Zealand. “We have two leading Hawke’s Bay food processing businesses seriously considering making a significant commitment to the hub, providing strong support for this facility.” Delivery of the Food Innovation Hub will also support future opportunities for a Centre of Vocational Excellence being looked at by EIT. Construction of the Hawke’s Bay Food Innovation Hub is expected to get underway in September next year and is due for completion by December 2021.