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Source: New Zealand Government

Government support for two community facilities will provide a major economic boost for Otago, helping the region’s recovery from COVID-19, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says.

Minister Jones has today announced funding for the Lakes District Museum and the Clutha Community Hub – two locally-led projects that will retain and create jobs and provide a boost to the local construction sector.

The funding comes from the $3 billion tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure.

“Government funding of $7 million has been approved for the Clutha Community Hub, a $17 million project which is estimated to create more than 150 direct and indirect jobs,” Shane Jones said.

“This is a significant project for the Otago region and will play an important role in the economic recovery of the township of Balclutha, the Clutha district and wider Otago region.

“The new community-owned community, business and visitor hub will address a lack of access to community services, cultural, arts and business sectors across the Clutha District. Construction is expected to be under way within three months.  

“This is an exciting project for the region and one that is well planned and able to start making a real difference to the community’s economy now that Government support is confirmed.

“Today I’m also announcing the strengthening and restoration of the Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown. This project has been put on hold indefinitely due to lack of funds as a result of the museum’s closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This funding will get the project back on track and would see construction able to start in late October.

“The $3.5 million project will receive Government investment of $2 million. The project involves seismic strengthening and of the former Bank of New Zealand building and stables, which houses the museum. In addition, the building will be restored and the museum’s displays will be removed and upgraded.

“On completion the new display areas will include an extended display of pre-European Maori history in the Southern Lakes and local geology. This will enhance the visitor experience for both locals and overseas tourists.

“Being able to undertake this project now will help buoy the local economy at a time when visitor numbers continue to be at unprecedented lows as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our support will mean about 13 jobs are able to be retained at the museum itself and new ones will be created in the construction sector. Given the specialist work involved, jobs will come from local contractors and contractors further afield, such as Dunedin and Christchurch.

“I’m pleased we’re able to support these two important community projects and look forward to hearing about their progress,” Shane Jones said.

Note to editors:

All approvals are in principle and subject to contract negotiations. Investment values are also subject to change.

The Provincial Development Unit will work with the Clutha Community Hub Community Trust and the Lakes District Museum Inc. to administer the funding and monitor the projects.