Monday, June 24, 2024

Report rates PGF as ‘effective’

An independent evaluation report has rated the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) as ‘effective’ in creating jobs and boosting regional economic growth, Economic and Regional Development Minister, Stuart Nash said today.

Mr Nash announced the results of the report during a visit to the Mihiroa Marae in Hastings, which recently completed renovation work funded through the PGF.

“It’s great to see that the PGF has made a huge impact in a very short timeframe. By providing investments into regions that have been historically under-funded, it has helped to build strong, resilient economies,” the Miinister said.

“We reset the PGF in 2020 with the goal of investing in smaller community initiatives as a way of addressing the impact of COVID-19 on businesses. The fund has provided regions with billions of dollars, which not only ensures economic security as we emerge from the pandemic but also supports the transition to a low-emissions economy.

“To date, the PGF has committed $3 billion in funding, with $1.87 billion paid out so far.”

Of the 1,359 projects approved for funding, over 500 have already been completed, resulting in over 16,000 jobs and improved economic outcomes for our regions, the Minister said.

As a key finding, the report stated that most PGF projects were on track as at March 2021.

“While COVID-19 has negatively impacted most projects, the effect was generally minor,” the report states.

“While not directly attributable to the PGF, a positive indication of the PGF’s early success is that some surge regions experienced strong economic performance over the period that PGF was implemented.

“Importantly, in the midst of the pandemic, the PGF has contributed to increasing optimism within communities,” it stated.

Minister Nash said the report had shown that grants and loans from the PGF had directly led to real change with tangible flow-on benefits – such as the $15 million loan and equity stake in Taupō-based GEO-40’s world-leading silica extraction plant, and the $500,000 grant for Southland startup ecosystem COIN South to launch their pilot business support programme.

“What is also promising in the evaluation is the fact that the PGF has had strong benefits for Māori communities. PGF funded training programmes are supporting people into employment, with nearly seven thousand young people, including those not previously in employment, education or training, participating in work skills programmes,” he said.

“We can see that projects backed by the PGF are already bearing fruit, creating jobs while building infrastructure and driving innovation for regions and their communities. The lessons we’ve learned throughout this process have already been reflected in the design of the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund.”

The report made a number of suggestion to improve management of PGF and for future programme development, including:
• sustaining and extending existing central and regional government relationships to
support tangata whenua and other organisations to get investment ready;
• at the pre-application phase, supporting organisations to scope the full costs associated
with implementing a project;
• supporting ongoing capability development of funded applicants, particularly with
project management;
• additional support to lift the capability of regional economic development agencies,
where required;
• implementing a simple and accessible reporting system for external use;
• measuring what is important, including anchoring the PGF and other similar initiatives
in holistic wellbeing frameworks such as He Ara Wairoa;
• assigning specific allocations to different types of investments when implementing
future investment programmes;
• preparing now to evaluate the long-term impact of PGF.

Read the full Allen + Clarke PGF evaluation report here.

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